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NICHOLAS ALAHVERDIAN 

'^rr 

i . 

1 



AND 


HOPING ALL 



Nicholas Alahverdian 


Survivor of Torture. 
Harvard Scholar. 
Child Welfare Advocate. 


t f/enioria/ Edition 


1987-2020 



DREADING 


AND 


HOPING 

ALL 







Hope, the painting on the cover of Dreading and Hoping All by Nicholas 
Alahverdian, is a painting by George Frederic Watts, completed in 
1886. The painting shows a lone blindfolded woman sitting on a globe, 
playing a harp that has only a single string remaining. The background 

features a single star. 

As early as the 1640s, an image of an anchor and the word "hope" were 
found on the Seal of the Colony of Rhode Island and Providence 
Plantations, and the Seal's words and emblems were likely inspired by 
the biblical phrase "hope we have as an anchor of the soul," found in 
Hebrews, Verse 6:18-19. The anchor remains on the Flag and Seal of 
the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, as does the word 
“Hope” which is also the State’s motto. 


The two full verses, which had special meaning for Mr. Alahverdian 
are: “That by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God 
to He, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to 
lay hold upon the hope set before us: Which hope we have as an anchor 
of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which entereth into that within 
the veil.” 


With hope as our anchor, we can accomplish all things. Survival, proof 
of our soul’s desire to burst forth with life, must be inextricably linked to 
hope if we are to subsist in the beauty and melancholic existence on 
this earth. 




ALSO BY 


NICHOLAS ALAHVERDIAN 


Ignoble Inferno: 

The Nicholas Alahverdian La wo nil 
Solemn Affairs: 

Representations of Humility, Brevity e3 
Dignity in the Gettysburg Address 

Thomas Wolfe: 

The Southerner, The Existentialist 

Semiotics in Jackson Pollock s Autumn Rhythm: 
The Beauty of the End, the Hope of the Beginning 


COMING SOON 


The Chronicles 
Volume II 




The Chronicles: Volume I 

DREADING 

AND 

HOPING ALL 


NICHOLAS ALAHVERDIAN 



NICHOLAS 





Copyright © 2019, 2020 by The Nicholas Edward Alahverdian 

Trust. 

All rights reserved. 

Published simultaneously in the United States and around the 

world. 

No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner 
whatsoever without written permission except in the case of brief 
quotations embodied in articles and reviews. For information about 
permission to reproduce selections from this book, please email The 
Nicholas Edward Alahverdian Press at neapress@protonmail.com 

The Nicholas Edward Alahverdian Press™ and the Eye of Providence 
logo are trademarks of The Nicholas Edward Alahverdian Trust. 

ISBN: 978-0-4636-4456-0 

Second Edition 

nicholasalahverdian.com 


1234567890 




To Patricia 

With coloooaL gratitude for everything you did within 
your power to rev cue me from the dept ho of he it — 

twice. 




Many times he died, 

Many times rose again. 

—William Butler Yeats, “Death” 







INTRODUCTION 


This is the first volume of a series of microbooks I am 
calling “The Chronicles.” In the pages and volumes that 
follow, I hope to share my experience for the benefit of 
various audiences and readers. Whether you are a social 
worker, an adult who was once an orphan, policymaker, 
politician, researcher, student, or simply want to know what 
it’s like to grow up without parents and in a broken state 
system, this series is for you. This series has been in the 
planning stages for over five years. With each volume, you 
will most certainly want to read the next. 

I’ve battled with myself for over a decade on how and 
when to write my memoirs about significant life events 
such as growing up as an orphan and simultaneously 
working for the government, and the amazing adventures 
that followed after I was released from that Minotaur of an 
unforgiving system. 

Experiences that glow in my mind of which I am proud, 
include attending Harvard University in Cambridge, 
Massachusetts, advising legislators in Washington, D.C., at 
the Rhode Island Capitol and State Houses across the east 
coast, and being invited to speak at universities, various 
federal agencies, think tanks and nongovernmental 
organizations. I would also write about the ultimate 
highlight of my life thus far: being invited to regular 


i 


NICHOLAS ALAHVERDIAN 


dinners and conferences with my professor, Harvard 
advisor, and friend, Nobel Laureate Seamus Heaney, one of 
the greatest writers and poets of all time. 

As I have advanced in age, however, and realized that 
my peak in advocacy and political activism is long gone, it 
became necessary to find a workable solution with which to 
document my vast array of experiences before they fade 
away as a result of the curse of age and fading memory. 

Microbooks have provided that solution. I define a 
microbook as a book that is 25-125 pages long. It is easier 
for both author and reader. You will soon see why, 
especially when the subject matter is so difficult, 30 pages 
about how group homes can implement security measures 
to eliminate tortuous or abusive behavior perpetrated by 
employees is incredibly important. 

Besides, sitting down at a desk and laboring over an 
epic tome concerning each of my experiences ranging from 
abuse and torture at the hands of group home employees all 
the way to when I started studying at Harvard University 
simply wouldn’t be practical. If I were to take a linear 
approach (in other words, following a historical timeline 
approach from beginning to end) to documenting my 
experiences, I would be making an unwise decision. The 
book would never be finished. 

The symptoms of my post-traumatic stress disorder 
(PTSD) would be exacerbated beyond repair. And my life 
would be profoundly impacted. My young and growing 


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DREADING AND HOPING ALL 


family would suffer, and that would be most unfair to them, 
especially for past events that they cannot control. 

Thus, I began to consult with friends and colleagues 
about how to best go about documenting what I consider to 
be valuable information about my life, what I’ve learned, 
and, most importantly, the past, current, and future 
infrastructural status of the State of Rhode Island’s 
Department of Children, Youth, and Families (DCYF) and 
how to bring about the permanent amelioration of this 
agency for the benefit of Rhode Island’s children and 
families. 

The DCYF is the broken foster care/juvenile justice/ 
child “protection” system in the State of Rhode Island and 
Providence Plantations (it’s universally characterized as 
“broken” by everyone: including the Rhode Island General 
Assembly, lobbyist firms, the State of Rhode Island’s 
Office of the Child Advocate, nongovernmental 
organizations, and even the federal government). 

Perhaps the adjective “broken” is far too nice. For 
starters, Jeffrey B. Liebman, Ph.D. of the John F. Kennedy 
School of Government at Harvard University has dubbed 
the Rhode Island DCYF as the “most messed up agency” 
that he’s encountered — ever. And he knows a broken 
system when he sees one. 

Dr. Liebman, an economist by training, served as an 
economic advisor to the 2008 presidential campaign of 
then-Senator Barack Obama. He later went on to serve as 


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NICHOLAS ALAHVERDIAN 


the associate executive director and chief economist of the 
Office of Management and Budget (OMB) in the Obama 
Administration. 

Dr. Liebman’s words are now recited in most 
Providence Journal op-eds and other media articles about 
the agency because it’s a great hook — albeit a very 
unfortunate one — for a news story. The Department’s 
constant stream of bad news — unqualified employees, 
deaths or near-deaths of children in its care, and closures of 
group homes are becoming more and more frequent. 

The issues in the press merely form the tip of the 
iceberg. Whistleblowers, researchers, victims, and the 
agency itself are confirming what I and others have been 
claiming for over 20 years. Our words, once dismissed by 
some at the State House as exaggerations or even 
impossible, are finally being accepted as truth. 

The people that call for DCYF reform are no longer the 
tinfoil-hat-wearing-“sky is falling”-shouting maniacs that 
longtime DCYF demagogues like Government Affairs/ 
Perpetual Assistant to the Director Mike Burk and Legal 
Counsel Kevin Aucoin wanted us to be characterized as. 
And that is exactly how it should be — because the time for 
dying children is over. The time for abuse is over. And the 
time for negligence is over. 

Michael Burk (Mike Burk) has been a senior DCYF 
employee for over 20 years. If I could compare him to 


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DREADING AND HOPING ALL 


anyone in world history, my immediate answer would be 
that the power in his role is tantamount to that which was 
afforded to former Vice President Dick Cheney. Burk is a 
“vice” or an “assistant” in name only. Just like Cheney, 
Burk wielded the real power behind the Office of the 
Director at DCYF, and throughout the tenures of Directors 
Jay Lindgren, Patricia Martinez, Janice DeFrances, Jamia 
McDonald (a statutorily unqualified bureaucrat, donor and 
political friend of R.I. Governor Gina Raimondo who was 
appointed to the position in violation of Rhode Island law), 
and Trista Piccola. 

With his octopus-esque tentacular reach across the 
Department and long arm to the State House as the 
Department’s official lobbyist, as well as being an active 
member in Rhode Island State and City of Tiverton 
Democratic Party politics, Burk is able to exert his 
monstrous influence across all decisions, policies, and 
actions made by the Department. A full history will be 
given in a volume of The Orphan Chronicles Series with a 
significant and detailed portion being devoted to the 
multitudinous interactions that I have had the misfortune of 
having with Mr. Burk. 

What I will say about Mike Burk at this moment is that 
if he was removed from the Department tomorrow, the 
Department would feel positive effects almost immediately. 
His harmful policy actions aimed at children and families 
coupled with his disdain for the population he is meant to 
serve is detrimental to his ability to meet the fundamental 
requirements of the role in which he currently occupies. 


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NICHOLAS ALAHVERDIAN 


We are on the RMS Titanic and we have been shouting 
“ICEBERG! DEAD AHEAD!” for twenty years while they 
laugh as they collect their paycheck and pension. They are 
not laughing as hard now since the Rhode Island General 
Assembly and the Providence market media are beginning 
to accelerate their coverage on each tragedy that occurs on 
a nearly weekly basis at the Department, but I can assure 
you that Burk (2020 salary: > $ 110,000.00) and Aucoin 
(2020 salary: > $155,000.00) are still suppressing a slight 
giggle as they deposit their six figure salaries while they 
continue to watch Director after Director resign or get fired 
while they are the ones truly to blame for this crisis that has 
been 25+ years in the making. 

Each integral decision that has involved deaths, near¬ 
deaths, abuse, negligence, covered-up press stories, leaked 
stories about fake DCYF successes, mismanagement of 
grant funds, and many others which will be covered in 
further Orphan Chronicles volumes — all of them lead 
straight back to Michael S. Burk and Kevin J. Aucoin. If 
anyone in Rhode Island state politics wants to make a dent 
in the disaster that is the Department of Children, Youth, 
and Families, whether you want it to be a financial dent, 
moral dent, leadership dent, ethical dent — and you want to 
be remembered for doing the right thing — call for these 
two pinheads to resign. 

And I just so happened to have had a front-row seat to 
witness the inner workings of this very agency of which we 
speak — with Burk and Aucoin whom I lovingly refer to as 


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DREADING AND HOPING ALL 


Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum — leading the Department 
as its true authoritative figures. But this isn’t limited to just 
Burk and Aucoin. I came to intimately know the DCYF 
behemoth from both the inside as an orphan who lived it, 
and on the outside as a state employee in the Rhode Island 
General Assembly who supervised and oversaw its budget, 
successes, failures, and other activities. 

I was first appointed as a Rhode Island General 
Assembly page at age 14 and then promoted as a special 
legislative aide in the House of Representatives, reporting 
to Speaker of the House John Harwood, his majority leader 
and successor to the Speakership Gordon D. Fox, and them 
his successor William Murphy. More directly, my day-to- 
day briefings and services were provided to 
Representatives Beatrice Lanzi, Rene Menard, Paul Moura, 
Joanne Giannini, David Cicilline, and others. These duties 
mainly consisted of drafting legislation, communicating 
with constituents, gathering bills to be reviewed for a day’s 
particular legislative session, performing research on issues 
and stakeholders inherent in the legislation, and fulfilling 
any other responsibilities as required or requested. 

I completed the latter of these two roles at the same time 
I was placed in the custody of the Department following 
my maternal grandfather’s death. His death had a profound 
impact on our family, and my mother resorted to unhealthy 
habits that began to impact the lives of her children. 


7 



NICHOLAS ALAHVERDIAN 


I was removed from the family home and placed in the 
in the infamous DCYF night-to-night program as a result of 
my mother’s drinking and drug use, with my brother and 
sister soon to follow. 

After spending a short time in DCYF shelters and then 
in the night-to-night program, I realized that the agency 
was in pandemonium. The only way I could be effective 
was to be a conduit through which the legislators could 
know what was really going on at the Department and 
inside the group homes and shelters with which it 
contracted. There were endless lights. Missed meals. No 
schooling was provided, or it was sporadic at best. Medical 
appointments were rarely kept. And employees of shelters 
and group homes were using state money and resources for 
their personal use. 

When I discovered the extent of the problems 
surrounding DCYF and its widely-condemned night-to¬ 
night program, I made the very difficult decision to take a 
leave of absence from my employment with the State of 
Rhode Island and form my own nonprofit lobbying firm to 
advocate for the rights of children and adolescents who 
were orphans — some would use the pejorative term 
“wards of the state” as if the child or adolescent had done 
something wrong to get into this predicament — under the 
care and custody of the Rhode Island DCYF. 

I had very simple goals: I wanted every orphan to be 
able to go to one school and remain in that school for the 


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DREADING AND HOPING ALL 


entire academic year. I wanted every orphan to be able to 
receive adequate medical care. I wanted every orphan to 
have the right to be able to participate in extra-curricular 
and academic activities in an effort to assist them to prepare 
for university. I wanted each orphan to be able to be placed 
in the least restrictive setting possible (which is already a 
federal law, Rhode Island simply chooses not to follow this 
law), with an eye towards family reunification for a child 
with a stable family within one year or, alternatively, if a 
child didn’t have a safe home to which they could return, a 
permanent or semi-permanent foster home or foster-to- 
adopt scenario. 

Apparently, making these recommendations made me 
public enemy number one within the State of Rhode 
Island’s Department of Children Youth and Families — 
especially with Mike Burk and Kevin Aucoin. Burk even 
went to Deputy Majority Whip Rene Menard’s office. 

Mike sat the three of us down where he tried to claim that 
my employment and subsequent lobbying at the Rhode 
Island State House was “risking the Department’s ability to 
find me a safe, permanent placement.” Representative 
Menard respectfully told Burk to “go fuck yourself’ and 
that if he “ever had any hesitancy to find a child or teenager 
a safe placement then he should find a new job”. That was 
the end of that conversation — and Mike Burk’s attempts to 
get me to stop going to the State House to fight for basic 
rights such as schooling, healthcare, a bed to sleep in, and 
the right to work. 


9 



NICHOLAS ALAHVERDIAN 


Burk ultimately had to work directly with Chief Judge 
Jeremiah and Governor Donald Carcieri to circumnavigate 
the entire Rhode Island General Assembly who apparently 
— while I had disappeared to Nebraska and to Florida 
where I was prohibited from communicating with any 
elected officials — were under the impression that I was in 
a safe foster home and thriving in Massachusetts. Huh? 

Mike Burk told each legislator that asked — and there 
were quite a few, I later discovered — a little white lie that 
I was in a foster home an hour north while I was in fact in 
Nebraska and Florida being tortured, raped, beaten, 
prevented from preparing for university, and overmedicated 
to the point of dystonic reactions and inability to fonn 
complete sentences. Again, all of this will be addressed in 
further volumes of The Orphan Chronicles. 

But before those unlucky days were to occur in late 
2003 until mid 2005,1 began to take pride in being an 
advocate for what I knew and felt in my heart was right. I 
felt a sense of pride when the Secretary of State called me 
into his office and informed me that I was youngest 
registered lobbyist in American history at age 15. Politics 
was an amazing thing, but it wasn’t the accolades that got 
me hooked. It was the legislative process and the different 
branches of government, which seemed to ensure that our 
democracy was the perfect system for our republic. 

Politics for me was what a first cigarette must be for 
some people. I couldn’t put it down; once I tried one, I was 


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DREADING AND HOPING ALL 


hooked. Politics became my lifeblood, and I had found a 
purpose. And as former Providence Mayor Vincent A. 
“Buddy” Cianci, Jr. had later taught me, politics was a 
blood sport — especially in Rhode Island — and if you did 
the right thing, knew how to poll the right people, and 
clearly articulate your platform, the voters would naturally 
join you or your cause as long as you could outwit and 
outsmart your opponent. 

I had found a solution to my existential crisis. I began 
to think that the United States Constitution and the 
Constitution of the State of Rhode Island were two of the 
most divinely-inspired documents that had ever graced the 
eyes of man. I began to revere the Founding Fathers. My 
naivety was nearly palpable. I had complete faith in the 
separate functions of the legislature, the judiciary, and the 
executive, at both the State and Federal levels, and I was 
certain that checks and balances were inviolable and 
occurred on a routine basis. But alas, you were 15 once as 
well. Don’t hold it against me. Now I know better. 

Yet, as I became this fierce, assertive force on Smith 
Hill I started to draw attention to what they really wanted to 
talk about: DCYF. People were asking me questions, and 
they were tough questions. One state legislator even tried 
to adopt me. Whenever one of the reps or senators would 
see me later in the evening walking the corridors of the 
State House jokingly ask if I had school the next day, I 
would say, “I wish!” 


11 



NICHOLAS ALAHVERDIAN 


I tirelessly fought for the rights of kids in DCYF care 
from dawn until the wee hours of the morning in the Rhode 
Island State House hearing rooms, offices, back rooms, and 
rooms that the general public don’t even know about. 

That’s where legislators and civil servants try to legislate 
their way out of catastrophes that could risk the lives of 
Rhode Island citizens or, more importantly for some of 
them, sabotage their re-election campaigns. 

Remember, the reason I had to leave my (rather 
lucrative state job as a 15-year-old) was because of my 
desire to wage “war with people who are trying to destroy 
kids’ lives” as I stated in a November 2002 Sunday 
Providence Journal column by Bob Kerr. Unfortunately, 
those people were stronger than I could have ever imagined 
and the wheels in their tiny heads were beginning to spin 
— they had to find a way to get rid of me. 

As a newly minted lobbyist, I spent hundreds of hours 
in Committee hearings — including the Committees on 
Health, Education and Welfare; Judiciary; Oversight, and 
many others. I frequently ran into Mike Burk. His creepy 
balding head and butchered Yosemite Sam moustache 
occasionally half-glared at me. The fact that we were now 
wearing same lobbyist badge annoyed the hell out of him. 
So did the fact that most legislators were actually taking me 
seriously and consistently complimented me on being well- 
spoken and presenting well-structured arguments in support 
of or against a piece of legislation. 


12 



DREADING AND HOPING ALL 


While Burk would jealously glare — which other reps 
and senators even mentioned to me because it was 
incredibly harrowing — I would just focus on whomever 
was speaking and the contents of the bill that was being 
debated. 

Burk rarely spoke if ever, and the reason for that is 
because he sucks at public speaking. I’m not being harsh. 
I’m just being brashly truthful about a man who has made 
known his opinion about me for the past 20 years and now 
I’m finally opining on him. He can’t properly start and 
finish a sentence, he has the most banal tone of voice one 
could ever stand to hear, and he would probably suffer a 
stroke if he dared to break his midwestem cadence and 
speak with even an iota of passion or gravitas. 

Perhaps that’s one of the reasons DCYF is in the state 
that it’s in: there truly is a lack of enthusiasm, energy, and 
morale. Essentially Mike Burk on a Friday night. You can 
nearly hear the collective workforce of the Department sigh 
with one accord. 

As a lobbyist, I didn’t make a dime. My clients were 
myself and my thousands of peers in DCYF care. They 
obviously didn’t pay very well, but I didn’t complain. 
Legislators would feed me with the leftover catering after 
the committee hearings before I would return to the DCYF 
headquarters at the ironically-named 101 Friendship Street 
and be transported to whatever shelter or group home had a 
spare bed for the evening. At least the practice of placing a 


13 



NICHOLAS ALAHVERDIAN 


kid in a different shelter or group home every night didn’t 
come with some fake politically correct-sounding acronym 
like “SAFE: Sheltering Adolescents with Food and 
Education” because that would have been a blatant he. It 
was the night-to-night program. And you would be given 
fast food. And you would sleep in a different bed every 
night surrounded by different people. Sometimes you 
would get hurt or abused. And that was your life. The only 
difference between me and everyone else in that program 
was that I went to the State House every day and tried to 
change that incredulous status quo. 

Much to DCYF Director Jay Lindgren’s despair, I was a 
constant presence in the House and Senate lounges. I 
would wait two hours for a committee hearing to end just to 
catch a legislator for two minutes to plead my case for their 
vote on a bill to protect children and adolescents like me 
who were orphans through no fault of their own. I 
frequented the banquet halls and barrooms where 
legislators and power-brokers gathered for campaign 
fundraisers and continued my push to reform the broken 
system. 

DCYF was broken 17 years ago in 2002, but it’s only as 
recent as 2018 that the public, governmental, and 
journalistic attitudes started singing the same tune: DCYF 
is in constant pandemonium and perpetual chaos, many of 
its employees are inept and incompetent, the social workers 
are assigned an inhumane number of cases, it removes far 
too many children from their homes and places them in far 


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DREADING AND HOPING ALL 


more dangerous situations than they left, and no matter how 
many more millions of dollars are appropriated as the 
Department goes overbudget each year and no matter how 
many Directors are dragged in and kicked out as political 
pawns to shield the Governor, most recently Gina 
Raimondo, the cumulative results that DCYF provides to 
the community during each gubernatorial administration 
are consistently antithetical to accomplishing the 
Department’s actual mission of caring for children, youth, 
and families, and even making a modicum of progress. 
Things are getting worse. 

Simply put, Rhode Island DCYF destroys far more 
families than it saves or preserves. 

I saw it from the inside as a 14-year-old orphan who 
was shuffled around from shelter to shelter in the infamous 
night-to-night program and sat in on the legislative hearings 
discussing that unethical, abusive, and negligent practice. 

To hear night-to-night discussed in legislative theory, 
Departmental justification by Mike Burk, and then public 
testimony decrying the practice, and then to subsequently 
participate in the program in practice as an orphan in 
DCYF care, knowing that just hours before the elected 
officials of my state called it inhumane and abusive, was 
surreal. 

I surmise that you can start to see that my childhood and 
adolescence was, to say the least, rather complex. My 
adulthood has been even more colorful. These experiences 


15 



NICHOLAS ALAHVERDIAN 


cannot merely be contained in one book. The conclusions 
that my colleagues and I reached while planning these 
writings essentially embrace a non-linear style of 
documenting my history that details different aspects of my 
life as an orphan and the stages thereafter in different 
volumes. This, the first, will deal with a case study of an 
out-of-state placement. I later lobbied for legislation that 
would prohibit this ghastly practice of placing Rhode Island 
orphans in places like Nebraska and Florida, and it was 
supported by the majority of the Rhode Island House of 
Representatives as signed co-sponsors. This is a rarity. But 
that bill never made it to the floor of the House. The 
sausage-making that is law-making and my efforts as a 
lobbyist will be discussed in another volume. 

While I may no longer be the age of an orphan and am 
now an adult, I, like all adults, have had successes and 
failures. I do, however, still consider myself to be on that 
orphan-filled vagabond train of life, living with a sense of 
unrehearsed spontaneity. It is this Dickensian spirit that 
most orphans possess, this craggy magic bursting within us 
that pushes us ever further to the next train stop of life, 
listening for that whistle to blow until we are swept away in 
the next enthralling adventure. 

The years have passed by quite quickly, and much to my 
detriment. I attempt to remain enticed by that bright, 
thrilling excitement of life, but with illness, tragedy, loss, 
and the shackles of the horrific abuse that I experienced as 
a child at the hands of the State, it is ever so difficult to live 


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DREADING AND HOPING ALL 


and not feel as if death is nigh, to breathe and ponder one’s 
last, and write and not be weary. 

Accordingly, the best way to relay my experiences, to 
document my thoughts, to relay the facts, to share hilarious 
stories, to tell you about the sheer agony that I and so many 
others endured in the name of the State of Rhode Island’s 
DCYF, to compare what it’s like to starve naked in a locked 
“quiet room” in a facility hundreds of miles away from 
home is difficult, to say the very least. And then, a few 
short years later, to enjoy a meal with my Harvard 
classmates, among them the daughter of the president of the 
Seattle Seahawks, and another, a piano prodigy who played 
Carnegie Hall aged five, to have another shot at lobbying, 
to have regular pints of Guinness and meals with a Nobel 
Laureate, surviving a personal tragedy beyond the scope of 
my wildest dreams — the best way to communicate all of 
that is through several volumes. 

How many? As many as it takes. We’re honestly not 
sure yet. And who knows. There may be other interesting 
things that I do in the meantime. But I highly doubt that, 
and I feel that the quiet life is now the life for me. I had my 
chance as a glow-worm, but now I’m just a regular worm. 

Some volumes of the books in The Orphan Chronicles 
will be rather brief and rightly called microbooks. Some 
will be considerable in size (for example, the one on Rhode 
Island politics — if I called that a microbook, there would 
be many confused looks headed my way as the current draft 


17 



NICHOLAS ALAHVERDIAN 


is somewhere around 400 pages and not even close to its 
conclusion). 

Some books will deal with tragedy and some will deal 
with triumph. I will finally reveal things that I’ve spoken 
about to very few. Some stories in the books will be about 
me. Some books will deal with poetry, art, literature, 
philology, and other things I’ve learned through the eyes of 
a Harvard student but more interestingly through the eyes 
of an ex-orphan Harvard student. 

There will be stories about rich people, poor people, 
people I’ve loved, and people I’ve despised, and people 
I’ve despised and made up with. Many of you will be 
surprised to know that you’re actually on the nice list and 
not the naughty one. In fact, there are far more people on 
the nice list than than the naughty one. 

And there will be historical figures that will be 
appropriately illuminated in these upcoming books. My 
writing will thus be critical or complimentary, but 
assuredly, either way, well-deserved. Needless to say, my 
icons will have special editions. Those other sinister foes 
of humanity will be lucky to get a bli nk . 

Some of what I write in The Orphan Chronicles will be 
entertaining. Some of it will make you cry. Some of it 
may bore you. You may leam a thing or two about a 
subject or a topic. Some of it, perhaps this volume, may be 
written hastily so as to explain the abuse I suffered without 
putting me at risk of an increase in the amount of 


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DREADING AND HOPING ALL 


flashbacks and nightmares that I already experience on a 
near-daily basis. Post-traumatic stress disorder is a ghastly 
disease and I would wish it on no soul. Not even Mike 
Burk (even though he is vicariously responsible for the 
abuse, torture, and negligence I suffered in Nebraska and 
Florida). And some of it will be incredibly detailed for 
statistical accuracy and adherence to professional standards 
and best practices. 

All of it, however, will be the truth. All of it will be 
worth reading. And that’s what matters most. 


NICHOLAS ALAHVERDIAN 
October 2019 


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NICHOLAS ALAHVERDIAN 


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DREADING AND HOPING ALL 


CHAPTER 1 

HELLFIRE IN FLORIDA 



“Hell is other people” 

Jean-Paul Sartre 

The first thing I remember is the brightness of the sun. 
The blazing, white-hot sun, and then being whisked into a 
luxurious lobby. It was a welcome departure from the drab, 
impoverished climate of Omaha, Nebraska where I had 
spent the previous 24 months. As I sit and attempt to 
remember the month that I was sent to this hellhole in 
Florida, my mind is simply drawn bla nk . That’s how 
overmedicated I was. 

Let’s move on. It was in 2004. I was 16 years old. I 
flew from Nebraska to Sarasota, Florida with my DCYF 
social worker and we drove up the massive Tampa bridge. 

I remember feeling so dizzy and very paranoid. I hadn’t 
been in a car in about two years as I endured significant 
torture and was court-ordered out of the Omaha facility due 
to severe and persistent physical abuse and other atrocities. 

I had first been sent to the Omaha facility, Boys Town, 


21 


NICHOLAS ALAHVERDIAN 


from my home state of Rhode Island, and the tragedies 
suffered in that hell-hole shall be discussed at length in 
another book in this series. 

I was exiled from Rhode Island, my home, because I 
was becoming a political and publicity threat. And Florida 
was deemed far enough from Rhode Island to continue to 
keep me in exile where I could contact no soul who could 
help me after it became apparent that the state of Nebraska 
was closing down the facility in which I’d been placed 
because of significant widespread abuse and numerous 
federal and state regulatory violations. 

Besides, the Boys Town cretins had become exhausted 
by my demands to protect my Constitutional rights and 
allow me to do what I was constitutionally protected to do. 
Rights including speaking with lawyers and filing civil or 
criminal court actions. Contacting the press. Contacting 
my DCYF social worker. Contacting state regulatory 
agencies in both Rhode Island and Nebraska. Contacting 
the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. And 
other rights that triggered action on my behalf due to the 
egregious abuse and negligence I suffered at Boys Town 
Intensive Residential Treatment Center. Put down the book 
and listen closely for a moment. Hear that sound? That’s 
Father Edward Flanagan, the founder of Boys Town and 
depicted by Spencer Tracy in the eponymous 1939 
Academy Award-winning film Boys Town rolling in his 
grave at the thought of what Father Val Peter did to his 
legacy. Thankfully, Peter’s successor Father Stephen Boes 


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DREADING AND HOPING ALL 


seems to have banned Peter from campus. He may, 
however, want to take a look at Matthew Peter, Douglas 
Spellman, and Pat Connell. They were a big part of the 
abuse and negligence that went on at the Boys Town 
Intensive Residential Treatment Center, and their activities 
will be discussed in a future volume of this series. 

This was all followed by my employment with the State 
of Rhode Island General Assembly. In other words, the 
Omaha cowboys chose the wrong man to test their 
Freudian superiority complex. I knew the law and that 
frightened them. Which is why they settled my lawsuit 
against them years later for a rather substantial sum, as did 
many others. 

Armed with diagnoses of post-traumatic stress disorder 
(PTSD), clinical depression, and dysthymia, the power 
players in Rhode Island who wanted me gone — and more 
than that, wanted me silent — had instructed the DCYF to 
exaggerate my conditions and mental state to find a place 
where I would remain far from home and unable to contact 
anyone via phone or postal service until I was 18 years old. 

In other words, they wanted to keep me overmedicated 
in a locked residential treatment center until I would “age 
out of the system” when there was no justified reason, 
medically or psychologically, for doing so. 

And they wanted me to be as drugged up as possible so 
as to not have the mental capacity to engage in any of the 
typical Nicholas Alahverdian behaviors that I would 


23 



NICHOLAS ALAHVERDIAN 


typically exhibit such as phoning the courts, attorneys, and 
the press when something abhorrent, newsworthy, or 
constitutionally questionable occurred. 

Why start this multi-volume series of books with what 
happened in Florida? Probably because it’s the best proof 
that the power players in Rhode Island politics knew that 
what they were doing was wrong — and they continued to 
knowingly and needlessly keep me hundreds of miles away 
from home. 

They knew they were sending me to a place that had 
several grand jury indictments issued against it, a place that 
had admittedly hired convicted child abusers, and a place 
that was owned by the now-defunct Psychiatric Solutions 
Incorporated (PSI) — an institution that was lambasted by 
governmental leaders, the press, and patients and families 
as a broken money-making machine that coveted profits 
and condoned people in their care. 

PSI was widely slammed in the 2000s for operating a 
vast network of troubled facilities. It was a for-profit 
hospital corporation listed on the NASDAQ. 

These PSI facilities, as I remarked in a Rhode Island 
State House press conference in March 2011 and confirmed 
in Pro Publica investigations carried out before, during, and 
after my admission in 2004, would follow this proven 
profit-making pattern: they would buy up troubled youth 
and adult residential treatment centers, cut the number of 
employees, increase the bed capacity, and then reap in the 


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DREADING AND HOPING ALL 


profits — no matter the abuse and neglect suffered by 
patients or the psychological toll taken on their families. 

The epitome of the PSI model as described above was 
implemented at the Florida treatment center that I was sent 
to, leaving me far from Rhode Island, but also far from the 
reality of attending any high school. This took things a step 
further. I could forget about acquiring any type of 
appropriate education before my 18th birthday. And to me, 
as education was literally everything to me, this was 
devastating. 

This was crucially important to me as a 17-year-old 
with lifelong aspirations of attending an Ivy League 
university. I had not realized, in fact, I think my brain 
failed to allow me to realize that not only was I not getting 
an education, but I also wasn’t preparing for the incredibly 
critical university admission test, the SAT. The thought of 
not attending university only worsened my spirit-sapping 
depression, PTSD, and dysthymia. 

It would also threaten my will to live in a way that I had 
not previously experienced. Education was always my 
therapeutic retreat from chaos and pandemonium due to my 
rather traumatic upbringing. And now there was no refuge. 
Only the singular hope that somehow, some way, I would 
be excused from a traditional secondary education by a top- 
tier university where I would attempt to succeed and thrive 
with all of my might. 


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NICHOLAS ALAHVERDIAN 


With this seemingly horrible hand of cards dealt to me, I 
was far from college preparation, far from Mar-a-Lago, 
West Palm Beach, or Walt Disney World. The only four 
things that the sunshine state could offer me — beaches, 
future presidents, filmmakers, and decent seafood — were 
well out of reach from behind the questionable barbed wire 
and locked doors (again! Why am I locked in a “hospital” 
when I haven’t committed a crime and I am not dangerous 
to myself or anyone else?). 

Far from both the rich and the poor, this NASDAQ- 
listed, for-profit, felon-hiring, barbed-wired kid jail next 
door to a Walmart where adolescents were sent without a 
jury trial or consistent state oversight was a purgatory that 
didn’t seem to exist in this reality — it was a dystopian 
universe unto its own. 

It was a place where adolescents readying for adulthood 
was not a priority but a running joke, as it was not 
uncommon for the staff to place bets on which patient 
would be a prisoner first and for which crimes. A place 
where the employees and patients formed rival gangs and 
held impromptu boxing matches and violent brawls, taking 
no prisoners. The matches ended when the loser was on the 
floor in the corner unconscious. As I said on The Buddy 
Cianci Show on 630 WPRO in October 2012, Manatee 
Palms was just like the film Fight Club. Manatee Palms 
was essentially a Fight Club-themed hotel. 


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DREADING AND HOPING ALL 


And for people like me who never threw a punch, I 
learned to get to the corner quickly. Some would ask at this 
point, “Well why didn’t you just not go to the gymnasium.” 
The answer is simple. If you didn’t go, you would get a 
shot of body-paralyzing, mind-torturing, and dystonia- 
inducing thorazine. Because you were noncompliant. 

That’s how these sick fucking people operated. Either you 
do what we say or we fucking drug you up until you can’t 
move anymore and you feel like you have 20,000 bee 
stings all over your body for the next two hours and then 
you refuse the next activity and we can give you another 
shot of this drug that’s basically a throwback from the 50’s. 
It’s fucking insane. And it’s responsible for several health 
problems that I’m currently suffering. 

There were other events, in which I did participate, and 
even those couldn’t go smoothly. One day early into my 
stay some genius thought it would be a good idea for a 
cohort of severely mentally ill people to watch the Michael 
Moore documentary Bowling for Columbine. I had 
personally seen this before and didn’t think it was 
appropriate due to the fact that there were kids who were 
going to be watching this film and they were going to be 
significantly impacted in ways that might not be positive. 
But oh well. What authority did I have to say otherwise. 

Bowling for Columbine elicited so much racial fury that 
the white minority among the staff and patients — solely 
me because I was the only white person among the staff 
and residents — would be a punching bag for a two hour 


27 



NICHOLAS ALAHVERDIAN 


melee of 12 blacks and Hispanics beating me as if I was the 
embodiment of the white race for the past 1,500 years and 
responsible for the heinous sins committed against them 
and/or their ancestors. 

Welcome to Manatee Palms Youth Services. 

Manatee Palms (which, in 2011, The Providence 
Journal accurately described as ‘deceptively named”), 
wholly owned and operated by PSI, was a dumping ground 
for kids from around the United States that had “severe 
behavioral problems”. 

Remember — my diagnoses at throughout my life were 
and remain to this day as follows: depression, dysthymia, 
and PTSD. I had become an orphan because my family had 
disintegrated, my mother was a severe alcoholic and drug 
addict, and I hadn’t had any contact with my biological 
father since the age of 7 (and for the record, I still haven’t). 

But Manatee Palms is where I ended up. 

I did not have any “behavioral problems” let alone 
“severe” behavioral issues. If granting interviews to the 
press about a broken foster care system or demanding a 
consistent public school placement and testifying before 
House and Senate committees are “behavioral problems”, 
them I confess to being behaviorally problematic. But I 
wasn’t. I was simply a political and publicity problem to 
lifetime bureaucrats with six figure salaries and/or pensions 
with connections far and wide who were tired of seeing the 
Department for which they were responsible be slammed 


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DREADING AND HOPING ALL 


by a 14-year-old punk like me in the newspaper and on the 
6:00 news. 

Of course, the State of Rhode Island Family Court, led 
by Chief Judge Jeremiah S. Jeremiah, conveniently had one 
of his staff psychiatrists certify that I had something known 
as “conduct disorder” — something that I was never 
diagnosed with previously or since — which qualified me 
as an eligible candidate for Manatee Palms after things 
were becoming murky in Omaha when Nebraskan state 
regulators became involved after constant abuse and torture 
was discovered and Boys Town was ordered to shut down 
the controversial and abusive program to which I was 
admitted. The Court’s staff psychiatrist also claimed 
“oppositional defiance disorder” — which is hilarious, 
because if, say, I’m on the debate team, (like I was at one of 
the 12 high schools I attended in 3 months as a result of the 
12 cities in which I resided in the night-to-night program), 
isn’t being oppositional and defiant a good trait? Protecting 
and defending your argument? I was quoted in a November 
2002 article in The Providence Journal that I wanted to be 
a lawyer, journalist and a politician. All of those things 
require some sort of opposition and defiance. Obviously if 
you’re getting abused or neglected, you have to oppose and 
defy that abuse and neglect with all of your might. And if 
you fight for your rights as a foster kid at the people’s 
house in your state like I did at the Rhode Island State 
House —just like unions, minorities, gay rights activists, 
and all of the other people who have marched, screamed, 


29 



NICHOLAS ALAHVERDIAN 


and shouted in unison in the aesthetically beautiful rotunda 
bursting with the world’s most beautiful murals — you 
have opposed or defied some force or power that was 
denying them a right or oppressing the other parties 
heretofore mentioned. 

There were kids being moved from night-to-night to 
different shelters. That was my argument. My conduct 
revolved around fixing this broken system. I was 
oppositional and defiant because we deserved a daily 
education, three meals a day, and a stable living space. 
Prisoners had a better deal with the State of Rhode Island 
than the kids like me in the night-to-night program. 

We couldn’t go to school. They were giving us KFC, 
McDonald’s, or Burger King for dinner when they actually 
had the donated vouchers. If they didn’t have the vouchers, 
then you would starve. Don’t believe me? There were 
plenty of kids in the night-to-night program and I know that 
they would tell you the same as I have. The conditions 
were brutal. Sitting in the lobby of a bureaucratic building 
with 20-year-old murals on the wall with ancient National 
Geographic and Sports Illustrated magazines? And then 
the kid walks out of the building — because who on earth, 
even in 2003 before kids had cell phones, wants to be stuck 
in that situation for 16 hours a day — and they go to 
downtown Providence where they are exposed to unhealthy 
influences like drugs and prostitution in Kennedy Plaza or 
Burnside Park. Their DCYF social worker marks them as 
AWOL until they are found or return to the DCYF building. 


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DREADING AND HOPING ALL 


Me? I went to the State House. That was my refuge. I 
worked, and then when there became a conflict of interest 
because I was lobbying more than I was working, I lobbied. 
So if I was oppositional or defiant at any point because I 
didn’t want to eat tax-payer funded fast food nor did I feel 
that it was in my best interest to sit for 16 hours in a State 
office building and I decided to go to work at my job 
(where your bosses, the elected officials are, and where I 
know you don’t want me to be) or if I decide to testify as a 
lobbyist how dreadful your Department is because you 
can’t even get kids to school or find them a foster home 
within a six to eight month time period, then that’s too 
goddamn bad. If it’s oppositional and defiant according to 
the criteria of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of 
Mental Disorders at the time (the DSM-IV, which I read 
when I was 12), then so be it, because of course I am going 
to oppose and defy “figures of authority” when they tell me 
I don’t have a stable placement to go to, I can’t go to the 
same school everyday, I can’t go to my medical 
appointments set months in advance. You’re not a figure of 
authority. You’re a figure of weakness making the State 
look bad. 

Anyway, back to Manatee Palms. The admission 
standards of Manatee Palms weren’t exactly as stringent as 
what I would experience when I successfully applied for 
admission to Harvard. However, the faux “conduct 
disorder” and “oppositional defiant disorder” for the 
aforementioned political activism and advocacy helped, 


31 



NICHOLAS ALAHVERDIAN 


even though they were misnomers). Because this is a PSI 
facility — remember, profit first, safety later, no matter the 
personal cost — essentially if the state from which you 
came was willing to pay the $350.00 or so per day that it 
cost to be “treated” at Manatee Palms, you were on the next 
flight toward Walt Disney World. However, there would be 
a slight detour with the final destination being a hellish 
dystopia as opposed to a Magic Kingdom of any sort. 

You wouldn’t be met by a friendly anthropomorphic 
mouse. There would be no cotton candy with swirling 
teacup rides and exhilarating jaunts down Splash Mountain. 
No. You were at Manatee Palms. You would be met with 
punches. And kicks. And sexual assault. And fecal matter 
thrown at you. And urine in your food. You didn’t even 
need an upgrade for those perks. 

So why would Judge Jeremiah S. Jeremiah want to send 
me all the way to Florida, and before that, to Nebraska? 
Well, it all started when I began to be invited by members 
of the Rhode Island Democratic Party to be active in 
politics — both city- and statewide. We’ll save the 
interesting story about how I temporarily found myself in 
the political spotlight and started working for the 
government for another volume in this series, but for now, 
let’s go back to how Judge Jeremiah slowly continued to 
ruin my adolescence. 

Jeremiah, a Republican, was a judge appointed by 
Governor Edward DiPrete. DiPrete and Jeremiah go way 


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back. Jeremiah served as DiPrete’s city solicitor when he 
was Mayor of Cranston, Rhode Island. When DiPrete was 
elected and took office as Rhode Island Governor in 1985, 
he brought Jeremiah along as the Executive Counsel — the 
Governor’s official lawyer and a top advisor. 

DiPrete served as governor until 1991, when millionaire 
businessman Bruce Sundlun (a Democrat) finally managed 
to unseat him after two previously unsuccessful attempts. 

Corruption was rife in the DiPrete Administration. 
DiPrete himself ended up serving eleven months in state 
prison for bribery, extortion, and racketeering after 
pleading guilty in December 1998. 

Because Jeremiah’s appointment as a Family Court 
Judge (along with a hefty six figure state pension) led him 
away from the corrupt forces of the DiPrete Administration, 
Jeremiah was able to escape most of the scrutiny that other 
DiPrete associates had the privilege of enduring. 

Regardless of whether or not Jeremiah should have been 
included in the DiPrete corruption probe, the fact that this 
decades-old friendship, professional relationship, and 
mutual backscratching that led DiPrete to make a 
gubernatorial appointment for his old friend Jerry Jeremiah 
is not a coincidence. As longtime Rhode Island child 
advocate Anne Grant called the relationship between 
DiPrete and Jeremiah, it was simply the “Cranston cabal” 
working its political witchcraft. 


33 



NICHOLAS ALAHVERDIAN 


Indeed, the appointment of Jeremiah most certainly 
wasn’t because he was an expert in Family Law or a 
champion for poverty-stricken, destitute Rhode Islanders 
with significant family crises. It was a political 
appointment that would make Machiavelli shudder. 
Jeremiah was brash, harsh, mouthy, ill-mannered, and bad- 
tempered. 

A brute at his core, Judge Jeremiah S. Jeremiah 
frequently bullied the children, parents, and adolescents 
that appeared in his courtroom on the fifth floor of the J. 
Joseph Garrahy Judicial Complex, and one was often left 
bewildered as to why a loud man with such a poor 
temperament was allowed to pass judgment on vulnerable 
Rhode Islanders and make decisions significantly 
disrupting their lives when he could barely contain his fury, 
impatience, and unhidden disdain for the caseload on his 
ever-growing docket. 

Sure, Jeremiah needed the advice and consent of the 
Rhode Island Senate for his judicial confirmation, but Jerry 
had been playing the game long enough to be confirmed 
without a second look by a single senator especially at that 
time in that Rhode Island. 

Jeremiah S. Jeremiah’s judicial career was rife with 
corruption and tolerance of abuse and negligence. He 
routinely phoned up journalists and screamed in his faux, 
worked-up baritone voice to “kill the story” whenever 


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someone dared report on a critical aspect of the Rhode 
Island Family Court. 

But there was a gentler side to Judge Jeremiah. 
Especially when he was showered with gifts, praise, and 
good food. These offerings mostly came from out-of-state 
congregate care providers looking to court Judge Jeremiah 
and then-DCYF Director Jay Lindgren to capitalize on 
Rhode Island’s lack of housing for all of the children and 
adolescents that DCYF had been removing from family 
homes at an unprecedented level with the lowest rate of 
social workers per capita and one of the highest caseload 
ratios in the United States. 

These for-profit “treatment facilities” and “hospitals” 
provided Judge Jeremiah and Jay Lindgren an overview of 
their clinical offerings with luxury dining, golf weekends, 
sight seeing, and five star hotel stays. After their hard work 
on behalf of the State they were allegedly meant to be 
representing, Jeremiah and Lindgren had significant 
leisurely time with the “hospital” executives and only at the 
conclusion of these envious occasions did Jeremiah and 
Lindgren put pen to paper and commit a certain number of 
Rhode Island children to each for-profit, out-of-state 
treatment facility. 

Rhode Island had a deficit of these newly popular 
“residential treatment centers” such as Manatee Palms for 
adolescents with special behavioral needs. No need to 
worry, they said. These corporations, would look after the 


35 



NICHOLAS ALAHVERDIAN 


kids under Jeremiah’s custody as a judicial officer of the 
Family Court. These caring people with a knack for 
providing loving service to otherwise unloved kids would 
provide that service. 

I’m trying to picture how these discussions would ensue 
if I was present “But wait. Rhode Island never had locked 
buildings where people couldn’t leave unless they were 
imprisoned or profoundly mentally ill.” Don’t worry about 
that, they would say, that’s just for security. So the kids 
don’t leave. So we can take care of them. Whatever that 
means. 

“And as for our treatment plans? Doesn’t it matter if the 
kid hasn’t been there before, has no family there, and if 
there is an estimated end of treatment date — that’s the 
point. The longer these kids stay as “patients” because they 
are “seriously mentally ill” (read: in the night-to-night 
program for too long, too old to be fostered or adopted in 
Rhode Island’s too few foster homes, and chose to act out 
because an admission to pediatric neuropsychiatric 
hospitals Bradley Hospital and Butler Hospital would 
ensure a temporary safe placement with healthy food, 
education, and caring nurses and floor staff for at least a 
few weeks) — the bigger the profits. That’s the point. It’s 
a corporation. It’s not a nonprofit. They report to the 
shareholders and that’s it — as long as money is being 
made by the people who are investing, that’s all that 
matters.” 


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Call me insane, but this is how corporations work. And 
sure, you can say that the children or adolescents can 
complain about service delivery, but if you’re prohibited 
from writing letters or calls, or on the rare chance that you 
do have a phone call with someone you desperately shout, 
“Please, please get me out of here, I am being tortured 
by...” the kind clinical staff will simply disconnect the line, 
claim the patient was having a breakdown and they are now 
in the quiet room (left naked and locked in a windowless, 
dark room with no ventilation) and have been given an 
intramuscular injection of thorazine in the buttocks. Bingo. 
The profit is kept. The patient is silent. All is well. 

And as with any corporation, the bottom line mattered 
the most. Jeremiah and Lindgren never visited the facilities 
once the youth were admitted to facilities located in places 
such as Florida, Texas, Nebraska, and Pennsylvania. All 
Jerry knew was that he had wonderful opportunities to 
travel, stay at fancy hotels, and be lavished with praise for 
his “work” on behalf of Rhode Island’s children and 
families. That meant these facilities were “state of the art” 
and “the best in the nation.” 

No, Jerry. They were profit-making enterprises. They 
didn’t show you how they treated the kids, they showed 
you a good time so you would get kids who were fighting 
poor conditions out of Rhode Island and into a locked 
facility where they can’t leave, call the police when they 
are hurt, send a letter, contact a lawyer, or their DCYF 
social worker. That’s why they treated you to first class 


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NICHOLAS ALAHVERDIAN 


flights, Michelin-starred dinners, glossy brochures, spa 
days, and golf. They don’t treat the kids that way. 

Who knows, maybe the senility hit him earlier than the 
doctors thought. 

The only plausible explanation is that these tools of 
typical business deal-making were employed in an effort to 
appeal to Jeremiah, the chief decision-maker about where 
these children and adolescents with allegedly significant 
behavioral disorders would be placed (as opposed to a 
foster home or group home in Rhode Island). 

Even more damningly, it almost acts as a preemptive act 
of penance to a State leader about why their particular for- 
profit, understaffed, underfunded, ill-equipped facilities 
that had far too many patients were the best possible 
options when considering where Rhode Island’s children 
and adolescents would be placed. Convincing the Chief 
Judge of a Family Court of a State that removes children 
from their homes and families at a rate higher than the 
national average (and Rhode Island’s rates have been 
disproportionately higher since nationwide statistics started 
to be recorded) to pay hundreds of dollars per day per child 
to stay at their hell-like facility would be hard work, 
wouldn’t it? 

Well, spa day, golf rounds, and Michelin-starred dining 
or not, Judge Jeremiah did take hundreds of kids and send 
them hundreds of miles away from their families and 
friends. These were no longer kids. They were 


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commodities. They were used as a statistic in an algorithm 
to calculate whether or not their “treatment needs” would 
continue to produce a profit. These so-called “patients” 
were now overseen not by caring individuals that provided 
reports to parents — the reports were only to stockholders. 
There was literally no motivation to indicate that a patient 
was progressing or whether he or she was improving or not 
— because empty beds mean lower profits, and lower 
profits mean angry shareholders. The kids aren’t alright — 
that’s the line they took for each and every one of them 
because every bed equals a steady profit. A bonus for the 
nursing management and the mid-level management. Hell, 
maybe something for the frontline staff at Christmas too. 
And that’s the way it was going to stay because, apparently, 
goddamnit, over the cold dead bodies of the CEOs of these 
corporations would an adolescent be discharged from their 
“hospital” before the age of 18 even if they showed any 
sign of improvement if it indicated any loss of a penny of 
potential profit. 

And Judge Jeremiah and Jay Lindgren fell for the 
perpetual capitalist child care cycle. Cash for everyone. 
Well, until the kid turns 18. But that doesn’t matter, 
because there will always be dysfunctional families. More 
kids will arrive at the doorsteps of these endless cash cows. 
And even if a child or adolescent doesn’t necessitate the top 
tier of treatment, there will always be a psychologist or 
psychiatrist compensated by the Court to say otherwise. 

And the cycle continues. 


39 



NICHOLAS ALAHVERDIAN 


Jerry didn’t totally escape scrutiny before his death in 
2015. After serving for decades at the helm of the Family 
Court, he was censured by the Rhode Island Supreme 
Court, became the subject of multiple federal and state 
misconduct allegations (particularly to the truancy court 
program which launched a major U.S. Department of 
Justice investigation), and had several decisions overturned 
by the Rhode Island Supreme Court in quick succession. 
This occurred after he reportedly began suffering from 
senility on and off the bench until his forced retirement in 
2010 . 

So when Judge Jeremiah sent me to Florida, it wasn’t 
because Manatee Palms offered some type of specialized 
treatment or miracle drug that was offered only at their 
facility in Florida’s Gulf Coast, it was because I was 
challenging him and his team in the Family Court, as well 
as the DCYF and its leadership. And PSI probably sent 
him on a tour of some of their facilities and threw in some 
or more of the aforementioned perks. 

Remember the quote of Dr. Liebman of the Harvard 
Kennedy School? “DCYF is the most messed-up agency 
I’ve ever seen.” If you didn’t agree with him earlier, or you 
still thought the DMV had a lighting chance, what are your 
thoughts now? 

When I began to acquire significant media attention in 
mid-to-late 2003, exile was the only option, and it went 
without saying that at places like Boys Town Intensive 


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Residential Treatment Center and Manatee Palms, one was 
not allowed to go to school, apply to college, speak to a 
lawyer, contact the clergy, file a complaint or motion with 
any court, or report abuse or negligence to the police. 
Which is exactly where Jeremiah wanted me to be. And 
because the State, at the direction of Jeremiah and Jay 
Lindgren, was paying $300-$500 per day for me to stay 
hundreds of miles from Rhode Island in their locked 
purgatory, those CEOs and clinical managers were willing 
to do whatever they were asked or even instructed — 
lawful or not. 

Given his past association with a governor who showed 
the same lack of respect for the law, Jeremiah’s constant 
acts of condoning state and federal laws and regulations are 
not surprising. Unfortunately, Jeremiah and his team were 
not the most ethical of people. This goes without saying 
based on the fact that he served as Executive Counsel to a 
Governor who was later convicted of serious crimes. 
DiPrete and Jeremiah were best friends for decades. Jerry’s 
loyalty was rewarded with a high-paying lifetime 
appointment to the Rhode Island Judiciary. To argue that 
one failed to benefit from the other’s crimes, however 
slight, is tantamount to insinuating that Tom Brady would 
have won 5+ Super Bowls for the Patriots without any 
receivers or offensive backfield members. When he 
ascended to the Chief Judgeship of the Rhode Island 
Family Court, Jeremiah was the referee on the field when 
the local high school teams came out to play, and he fixed 


41 



NICHOLAS ALAHVERDIAN 


every call, had a cut from every bet, and knew how to eject 
and silence anyone who dared question his call or 
judgment. You could ask for an instant replay and that 
would be enough to warrant a ten year suspension. He was 
the judge, jury, and executioner. Jerry loved his fiefdom 
But it damaged the lives of generations of Rhode Islanders. 

We’ll get more to my overall experience with Jerry and 
friends later, but let’s get back to Florida. 

I suppose the reason I keep circling the runway on the 
Florida issue is simply because of how goddamn awful it 
was there, in that pit. I have intentionally tried to forget 
most of it, but let’s talk about what I do remember. It’s 
difficult to talk about this, but here we go. 


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DREADING AND HOPING ALL 


CHAPTER 2 


ROUND ONE! DING! 



“Sure the fight was fixed. I fixed it with a right 

hand.” 

- George Foreman, on his fight with 
Michael Moorer 

I’m not a tighter. Never have been and never will be. 
The esteemed residents (or “patients” if you want to believe 
that this place was a bona fide hospital) of Manatee Palms 
Youth Services in Bradenton, Florida certainly loved a 
good fight. Some of them would make Mike Tyson look 
like Mr. Rogers. 

Here’s what I remember when I walked into the facility. 
The lobby was extremely luxurious. Overstuffed sofas, a 
selection of soft drinks, an ice machine, a selection of 
current periodicals. As my Rhode Island DCYF social 
worker and I sat in this strange Floridian lobby, the 
admissions representatives came out to greet us. We were 
ushered into another vast room with a large boardroom 
table and the three of us sat in the far corner, as if the 


43 


NICHOLAS ALAHVERDIAN 


remainder of the table was reserved for the twelve apostles 
and Christ himself. 

Knowing what I know now, I wish they made an 
appearance. 

A litany of paperwork was completed, most of which I 
didn’t fully comprehend because I was still drugged up 
from the Nebraskan psychiatrist’s cocktail of drugs. Again. 
Depression. PTSD. Dysthymia. Those were my 
diagnoses. 

But in order to get admitted to what would amount to 
the antithesis of a country club, one had to have other 
diagnoses from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of 
Mental Disorders (DSM) supplant or supplement one’s 
actual diagnosis as a matter of instituting overblown 
“treatment” plans and pharmacological concoctions. In 
other words, they needed to justify the brutality. 

After we finished the paperwork, I was given the 
opportunity to bid farewell to my unknowing social worker. 
She headed back to Rhode Island while I remained in this 
foreign place of sun and sin, and as I would soon learn, 
there would be countless instances of abuse, negligence, 
assault, torture, and other atrocities. 

I was placed on a unit with seventeen other boys. There 
was one other from Rhode Island, three from Washington, 
D.C., and a few from Texas if my memory serves me 
correctly. 


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DREADING AND HOPING ALL 


The surroundings were a far cry from what I had 
experienced in the lobby, which was clearly solely for 
show. There were holes in the wall, as a result of the other 
boys punching them. I distinctly remember glancing at 
their fists and seeing the blisters and bruises that proved 
that the fist had met the wall with purposeful, destructive 
force. 

I have always been a voracious reader, so I attempted to 
locate the nearest bookshelf. No such luck. 

As this was a locked unit, and because I could not leave, 
you could say I was imprisoned there. I began to realize 
that even people who are actually detained in “real” jails 
have access to books. They also have access to phones, 
and paper with envelopes accompanied by postage stamps, 
don’t they? Why was I being cut off from the outside 
world? 

Another boy saw me looking around. He had a thick 
southern accent and a rather threatening gait. 

“Where ya goin’ boy?” he asked. 

“I was just looking for some books to read,” I replied. 

He stared at me with dark eyes, the color of coal. His 
mouth made a gesture as if he was going to burst out 
laughing and then suddenly it transformed into fury, and 
then back to one of hysteria. I was scared. 

“I ate all of the books,” he answered. 

I slowly backed away and said, “okay, I am sorry.” 


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NICHOLAS ALAHVERDIAN 


I’m 16 years old at this time, and I remember, a week 
into my stay, I sent about ten handwritten letters to 
Universities across the nation and asked them for 
viewbooks and applications. Unfortunately, the overnight 
worker was unaware of my ban to access the U.S. Postal 
Service (to be honest neither was I) and because he 
admitted to sending the letters for me, he was fired and the 
viewbooks were kept in a cardboard box in the staff office 
until I was discharged in June 2005. That was the Manatee 
Palms Youth Services approach toward education. They 
made it known there and then. Besides, the thorazine they 
injected in my ass everyday made me forget all about 
university. 

❖ 

There were three shifts. The first was from 7:00 a.m. 
until 3:00 p.m. The second shift was from 3:00 p.m. until 
11:00 p.m. And the third shift was from 11:00 p.m. until 
7:00 a.m. Between the hours of 7:00 and 3:00, there would 
be about thirty-eight of us were placed in a room too small 
for thirty-eight boisterous male adolescents. 

There was a “teacher” at the head of the “classroom.” 
His job was essentially to hand out workbooks allegedly 
accredited by the State of Florida for us to work on 
throughout the day. 

Without fail, there would be fights everyday. Fights 
over whom was the rightful owner of a pencil. Fights over 
which boy was looking the wrong way at another boy. 


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DREADING AND HOPING ALL 


Fights over whether or not one accidentally or intentionally 
brushed up against a desk when trying to navigate through 
the cluttered, overcrowded “classroom.” 

Within a week, it was my turn. Everyone had their so- 
called “honeymoon period” where they didn’t risk the 
attention of physical abuse from their peers. But when my 
time came, it came with a bang. 

I was never a big teenager. I never fought back. I didn’t 
know how to fight. I always ended up with a bloody nose 
and a black eye. I think for the year or so that I was in 
Florida, rare was the day when my eyes and nose were not 
injured in one way or another. 

Bruises covered my body perpetually. At night, the 
older, bigger kids began to assault one another. Some of 
the employees maintained couple-like relationships with 
the patients. 

Others were simply assaulted under threat of further 
physical abuse or a detrimental report which would 
eliminate the ability to access “privileges” (i.e. dessert, 
television, candy, and other immaterial carrot sticks used to 
compel the patients to comply). This happened to me on 
several occasions, including once when I was raped by a 
staff member named Rhonda. 

She was charged with a crime when I reported what she 
had done to me, and she accepted a plea deal, pleading 
guilty, thankfully sparing me the pain of reliving that 
particularly painful incident during a trial. Her confession 


47 



NICHOLAS ALAHVERDIAN 


was published in the local newspaper, and she admitted her 
guilt, yet she still continues to work in the health care 
industry to this day. 


Manatee County, Florida paid a hefty price for each 
“student” that was attending Manatee Palms. I later learned 
that hundreds of thousands of dollars was spent, and that 
this was earmarked for our education. Where this money 
actually went, I haven’t a clue, but I can confirm that we 
never had any lessons, we had no textbooks, we had 
nothing. 

The “classrooms” weren’t even equipped with 
chalkboards. I remember reading on the internet years later 
during the lawsuit I filed against Manatee Palms that each 
student was entitled to an education that was substantively 
similar to the students who were enrolled at the local high 
schools. 

Why we weren’t allowed to go to public school, 
moreover, why I, a gifted student with a sky-high IQ (when 
the testing was conducted in 2002 at age 14, the examiner 
said I possessed a “genius-level IQ and should consider 
being admitted early to university”) and a graduate school 
reading level wasn’t permitted to go to public school while 
in Florida, I will never, ever kn ow. 

Perhaps the whole thing was a big cash grab. I do kn ow 
for a fact that the employees were paid next to nothing. 


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DREADING AND HOPING ALL 


Most of the employees were recent high school graduates, 
not much older than the patients (who were all between the 
ages of 13-17). Both the staff and the patients acted and 
spoke like they were from the gang community. 

It was claimed on multiple occasions that I “set myself 
up” for things such as torture and abuse (and when I say 
torture and abuse, I mean fingernails and toe nails being 
ripped from their respective nail bed after being strapped to 
a board kind of torture and abuse, among many other 
things) because I enjoyed reading and classical music. That 
was the causation. Reading. And classical music. 

The other residents would frequently beat me, 
immediately going for my nose, constantly choking me and 
trying to grip their hands around my throat and the tubes 
therein, and the staff would join in as well. 

Throughout my tenure there, I am only aware of two 
employees being fired for their behavior against me. They 
were incredibly violent, but ironically and unfortunately, 
the employees who were the most violent and the most 
abusive escaped without any disciplinary action because it 
took place where CCTV could not see the behavior. 

The only reason the two employees were terminated 
was because their behavior was captured on CCTV. 

Sadly, this went on for months and months. When my 
DCYF social worker finally came to see me at some point 
in 2005, she realized what had been happening and she 
took immediate steps to have me removed from that 


49 



NICHOLAS ALAHVERDIAN 


facility, but it involved getting a court order from the now- 
senile Judge Jeremiah, and it didn’t come quick. 


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DREADING AND HOPING ALL 


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NICHOLAS ALAHVERDIAN 


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DREADING AND HOPING ALL 


CHAPTER 3 


WHY? 



“I lost the angel who gave me summer, 
the whole winter too.” 

- Frank Sinatra “When I Lost You” 

During those months at Manatee Palms, I was so lost. I 
am at a loss for words when I attempt to describe how or 
why I ended up in Florida — where I had no relatives, 
friends, or otherwise any familial or social system. 

I also found it incredibly defeating to accept that I was 
placed in a treatment center for people with serious mental 
illnesses. I recall speaking with the doctor on the unit for 
the first time — Bellino was his last name, if I recall 
correctly — and apparently he was retired, served on a 
Board of Directors for a bank, and was paid a hefty sum to 
spend five minutes every other week with each patient so 
that it could be documented that the “patient” saw a 
“doctor.” He freely admitted this. Every appointment 
thereafter saw medication added or increased. I was never 
tapered off any of the drugs he so carelessly prescribed. 


53 


NICHOLAS ALAHVERDIAN 


When I say zombie, I was a zombie. I could barely walk. 
Forget reading. I could no longer form an intelligible 
sentence. As my DCYF social worker said when she saw 
finally visited me in early 2005,1 was “a shadow of a 
shadow of a shadow” of my former self. 

Let’s get one thing straight — there was no doctor- 
patient relationship. This was blatant pharmacological 
torture. When I returned to Rhode Island in June 2005, my 
longtime psychiatrist, Dr. Jeffrey Hunt of Bradley Hospital, 
had to slowly taper me off of the dangerous near-homicidal 
cocktail of drugs that I had been prescribed. To this day we 
are still in awe that I survived that amount of medicine and 
that I was able to return to some semblance of being a 
healthy and active human being after suffering so much. 

These nurses and doctors — if they were even certified, 
as the checks system was nonexistent according to the Pro 
Publica news reports — had no idea what they were doing. 

I recalled that on two separate occasions I had dystonic 
reactions to drugs that they had given me — with the threat 
that they would be injected if I refused to take them orally. 

Dystonic reactions are something that you wouldn’t 
wish on your worst enemy. Imagine your upper jaw curling 
up against your lower jaw on one side and then imagine a 
sensation of the jaw then beginning to consume itself. It is 
the most painful side effect that I have ever experienced — 
and it was all for being treated with drugs that there was no 
need for me to be taking, because again, I had depression, 


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DREADING AND HOPING ALL 


PTSD, and dysthymia. Not these invented diseases to keep 
me in these facilities to stop me from contacting the media, 
the courts, applying to universities, and doing other things 
that any 17-year-old would normally do to prepare for 
adulthood. 

I’m not saying that the Rhode Island DCYF and the 
Family Court were the sole actors in keeping me out of 
state for as long as they could. They were not the sole 
actors in this criminal pandemonium. Because 
hypothetically, even if there was nothing wrong with me, 
and the Manatee Palms doctor relayed that to Rhode Island 
DCYF, Manatee Palms and PSI would lose that profit that I 
was making for them until the bed was filled again, which 
would have a potential impact on their stock price based on 
how closely the shareholders monitored bed capacity and 
hospital population. I was a commodity. Thus, Manatee 
Palms had no aspiration to discharge me even if I walked 
on water, turned water into wine, and fed the entire patient 
population with the finest fish and bread that I fashioned 
out of a single loaf and a can of tuna. They would simply 
chalk it up to psychosis because it’s out of the norm to 
perform such miracles. 

Let’s talk about the thorazine (chlorpromazine) they 
consistently injected into me on a daily basis. Essentially, 
because I was so drugged up, I would be unable to get out 
of bed because I couldn’t function. Anyone on the amount 
of medication — especially unnecessary medication — that 


55 



NICHOLAS ALAHVERDIAN 


I was on would not be able to function like a normal human 
being. 

Needless to say I would have trouble getting out of bed 
in the morning. So the Manatee Palms staff, being the 
geniuses that they were, decided that the best course of 
action if I was, in their interpretation, “refusing to leave my 
bed”, was to inject me with thorazine in my buttocks — a 
very dangerous, horrible, mind-numbing drug — strap me 
to a gumey, take me to a windowless, closet-like room, 
restrain me on the floor, strip me naked, and leave me in 
the triple-locked room for the entirety of the day without 
any food, water, or medical assistance. 

How, how on earth did this happen? This will be 
discussed in other books in this series, but less than two 
years prior I had been working for my state legislature. I 
had dreams of attending Yale or Harvard. I wanted the best 
for my life. 

But because I was a publicity threat, I had to be kept as 
silent as possible. And unfortunately, this cohort of 
individuals in Rhode Island were successful in keeping my 
mouth shut. Let me explain. 

In addition to several other factors which will be 
detailed in other volumes in this series, I discovered in 
2002 through a colleague at the Rhode Island State House 
that Judge Jeremiah’s chief of staff, David Tassoni, did not 
have a law degree. That wasn’t it — he didn’t even have an 
undergraduate degree. But he was mediating divorce cases 


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DREADING AND HOPING ALL 


and sitting as a court-appointed magistrate at the direction 
of none other than Jeremiah! 

My source told me to confront Jeremiah with the 
information — which I did. Jeremiah knew that by now I 
had amassed a rather large rolodex of contacts in the press, 
especially for a fifteen-year-old. 

So when I learned this information, and when I learned 
other compromising details about Family Court and DCYF 
employees and practices (such as the fact that the 
Department had restarted the night-to-night program behind 
the back of the Rhode Island House of Representatives 
despite promising that it was no longer being used), I was 
going all in. 

I did what no 15-year-old in their right mind would do 
and I went to New York City alone the week before 
Christmas with a twenty dollar bill in my pocket and 
wearing the only suit I owned. 

Once I reached Manhattan, I went to each of the major 
news networks and newspapers to speak with producers, 
receptionists, and researchers. I was armed with documents 
and proof of the corruption, abuse and negligence that was 
ensuing in the Rhode Island Department of Children, Youth 
and Families. 

I scheduled appointments with producers from NBC’s 
Today show as well as The O ’Reilly Factor on Fox News 
among other networks. Those were the two shows that 
confirmed my appearance during the first episodes of the 


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NICHOLAS ALAHVERDIAN 


New Year. The other appearances were to be solidified 
within the coming weeks. 

I finished my work on Christmas Eve. Everything was 
sorted out, and I was excited. One of the producers bought 
me a hotel ticket for my final evening in Manhattan so that 
I didn’t have to sleep on the subway again. 

I made my way back to Rhode Island with train tickets 
in hand — paid for by a television host himself— for the 
appearances in January. All I had to do was keep quiet and 
let Jeremiah (who bore an uncanny resemblance to Jabba 
the Hut) enjoy his Christmas feast. And then I would 
strike. 

Unfortunately, Jeremiah had been tipped off that I was 
meeting with the press locally — WJAR (the NBC 
affiliate), WPRI (the CBS affiliate), and The Providence 
Journal had all done stories on me again — yet Jeremiah 
had no idea about the national news that was about to 
break. And he wouldn’t, because he single-handedly killed 
the stories without even knowing they were going to be 
aired. 

He had the power to keep me from contacting anyone 
after placing myself in a secure facility in Rhode Island 
until I could be flown to Nebraska. I was literally Court- 
ordered to not leave the youth shelter and the staff were 
similarly ordered to not allow me to use the telephone, send 
letters, or leave the property. I was devastated. 


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DREADING AND HOPING ALL 


Said another way, he proceeded to deem me a threat to 
myself because I was “not complying with my treatment” 
— that was always their go-to excuse when I arranged to 
have the truth about the abuse and negligence inherent in 
the DCYF and the Family Court illuminated in the press 
and the court of public opinion. 

Thus, he had me sent to a supervised shelter that I was 
unable to leave until I was sent to Nebraska in mid-2003, 
preventing me from any further contact with any media 
network — local or national. 

After all, Jeremiah was the one that was unwilling to 
order me to be placed in a permanent foster home in an 
effort to remain in one school district so that I could attend 
the same school school each day, every day. 

If there was anyone that wasn’t complying with any 
unwritten “treatment plan”, it was Judge Jerry. He acted 
within his own sphere and his own flefdom. He reported to 
no one. And while he was alive, he was never formally 
disciplined. 

Perhaps an appropriate remedy awaits him in the 
afterlife, but who am I to judge? 


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NICHOLAS ALAHVERDIAN 


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DREADING AND HOPING ALL 


CHAPTER 4 

KNOCKIN’ ON HEAVEN’S DOOR 



“Give me liberty or give me death!” 

- Patrick Henry 

So here I am, from early- to mid-2005 walking around 
like a zombie, waiting for my Rhode Island DCYF social 
worker to acquire an order from Judge Jeremiah to remove 
me from Manatee Palms. She knew I was a vegetable. 

And I am only beginning to come to terms with publicly 
discussing that now. 

Days blended together. Sleep eluded me and my nights 
were numbed by the thorazine. Drooling became 
commonplace. Never in my life had I suffered problems 
with my motor skills, but here I was, not knowing how to 
tie my shoes. Not being able to write. Not being able to 
comprehend what I was reading. 

I must admit, I cannot definitively say that Judge 
Jeremiah, David Tassoni, Mike Burk, Kevin Aucoin, or any 
of my other political adversaries knew with a surety that 
that’s how I was going to turn out, but I cannot fathom why 


61 


NICHOLAS ALAHVERDIAN 


I would be sent to not one but two states out of Rhode 
Island, where I was allowed to contact no one, and was 
constantly abused and neglected. Manatee Palms was 
closed by the State of Florida both before and after my 
admission as was the Boys Town Residential Treatment 
Center by the State of Nebraska. Clearly there was 
something wrong with those facilities and I shouldn’t have 
been sent there in the first place. 

If my work as a Rhode Island General Assembly 
Legislative Aide or my later work as a lobbyist provided 
any ammunition to these or any other individuals because I 
wanted to ameliorate the Rhode Island DCYF, I cannot 
understand why such dire consequences had to be suffered 
by me and my brain and my body. 

All of this happened before the age of Twitter and 
Facebook, and I guarantee that if I was experiencing now 
what I did then, I would be able to end it quicker and draw 
eyes nigh to the problems that seemingly continue into 
perpetuity because I could record the video and audio of 
these outrageous, abusive, and tortuous hellholes where I 
was nothing but a commodity to a bunch of shareholders. 

I suffered everyday at Manatee Palms. It was so long 
ago. Bloody noses everyday, bruised body, hurting all over, 
pain everywhere. No relief. 

But sometimes, even now, at night, I wake up, and I am 
ever so still as I fear that I am still there, still being beaten 
with a baseball bat, still having feces shoved down my 


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DREADING AND HOPING ALL 


throat and smeared across my face, still being injected with 
thorazine in my buttocks, still being sexually assaulted, still 
being held against a wall with one hand tightly gripping my 
neck as my feet dangled below, still having urine poured on 
me in my sleep, still being kicked, punched, locked alone in 
a windowless dark closet ironically called “the quiet room” 
without food or water for days on end. Still. Still. Still. 

This was a political consequence. There is no question 
in my mind. As a whistleblower of the conditions in DCYF, 
they had to take my whistle away. Judge Jeremiah did that 
by sending me to places where I was prohibited from using 
the phone, sending letters, filing lawsuits, pressing charges, 
or doing anything to protect my interests and rights. 

The question that must be asked now is whether or not 
this still continues today. When children and adolescents 
are sent far from their home states where they have no 
relations or social/familial networks, are they still being 
prohibited from postal correspondence? Are they denied 
the ability to bring civil or criminal charges when they are 
abused and neglected? Are they allowed to phone lawyers, 
the police, their social workers, their family or the clergy? 

These issues need to be addressed and it is within the 
purview of each state legislature in the United States, the 
governor of each state, and each state judiciary system to 
review their role and ensure that they are doing their part to 
protect children and adolescents that otherwise wouldn’t 
have a voice. 


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NICHOLAS ALAHVERDIAN 


Children and adolescents in state care may not be able 
to vote and they may not donate to campaigns or organize 
at the ballot box, but they are in the custody of the state to 
which you swore an oath. Legislators, judges, and 
governors need to start looking after children as they would 
their own. 

Never again should a child be used as a commodity like 
I was and be sent to a facility hundreds of miles away with 
previous grand jury indictments issued against it for 
widespread abuse and neglect only to be left for dead for 
months. Never again should the only report that is most 
frequently sent or received when a child is in care consist 
of a balance sheet to a shareholder or board of directors. 

It’s despicable. I lost my childhood. And Manatee 
Palms, PSI, and its successor companies are responsible. 

Furthermore, the onus is also on the federal government 
to ensure that federal regulatory measures undergo routine 
compliance checks. Without this essential federal 
oversight, state actors that may not be conforming with 
current federal regulations are able to circumvent the law 
thus condoning further child abuse and negligence within 
statewide social service systems. 

No one wins, except the shareholders. Thus, in my 
calculation, you have money made on the successful yet 
illicit imprisonment of children and adolescents without 
straightforwardly calling it imprisonment, instead 
concealing it with the gentler “treatment” term. You have 


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DREADING AND HOPING ALL 


made a profit on the virtual imprisonment of a youngster 
when no crime has been committed but you’ve arranged to 
have them drugged up to the point of cognitive oblivion 
and thus they are to remain in your care to the tune of 
multiple hundreds of dollars per day lest they are 
discharged which of course your psychiatrists do not 
recommend and would be a discharge against medical 
advice because there would be no continuity of care. So 
you would need a court order, yes. And no, it certainly has 
nothing major to do — well, something perhaps, but 
nothing major to do with profits and empty beds. We may 
fill it by the end of the evening. 

When the bed is filled again, the cycle repeats itself. 

You keep the child under lock and key, you take the money, 
and you deprive the child of education. You drug them up 
until they forget their name. You staff the facilities with 
inexperienced thugs not much older than the population 
they’re meant to serve, having just attained a high school 
diploma or its equivalent, something your patients will 
never achieve. Perhaps. Perhaps not. 

Or that patient will earn a GED, get admitted to 
Harvard, leam how to write from the best professors on 
earth, befriend a Nobel Laureate, regain their academic, 
political, philosophical, and intellectual strength, and live to 
tell the world about your depraved profit-making enterprise 
that thrives on chaos, lies, and iniquitous retention 
advocated by psychiatrists who are in on the game and hold 


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NICHOLAS ALAHVERDIAN 


the same. God. Damn. Shares. To. Become. Wealthier. 
Through. Forced. Fictional. Psychiatric. Treatment. 

In further volumes of The Orphan Chronicles I will 
detail more about regulatory reform and how governmental 
oversight can stop bad actors like these and persuade 
potential and/or reluctant whistleblowers to give testimony 
about current conditions through legislative and 
Congressional subpoenas. 


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NICHOLAS ALAHVERDIAN 


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CHAPTER 5 

THE MANATEE PALMS MEMO 

This memorandum was sent by 
Nicholas Alahverdian following a request from 
Governor Lincoln D. Chafee’s 
Office for Legislative Affairs in 2011 

This memo will attempt to convey the abuse that I 
suffered at the hands of employees of Manatee Palms Youth 
Services, financed by the State of Rhode Island. On a 
comparative scale, if what I’ve experienced were 
hurricanes, these situations would be most aptly be 
characterized as a Katrina-like set of incidents and storms 
with no help from the government (or at least until I was 
rescued by my Rhode Island social worker with whom I 
credit with saving my life). These incidents, 
comprehensively and cumulatively, forced me into a state 
of severe existential despair; however, this response shall 
focus on the physical suffering that I sustained during these 
injurious and and hurtful occurrences. That said, 
notwithstanding the emotional abuse, I will focus on the 
physical abuse and its effects while not dismissing said 
emotional damage. 


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NICHOLAS ALAHVERDIAN 


An assault exacted upon me merely a week into my stay 
at Manatee Palms was only the tip of the iceberg. An 
employee of said agency, Jason William, did strike me 
repeatedly in a violent and vile fashion. The expression on 
his face was pure fury. Repeatedly, he struck me fiercely, 
each blow varying in agonizing aching pain. I specifically 
recall after each pounding thrash the pulsating and 
palpitating physiological stinging, the throbbing, gnawing 
instant soreness even as my screams pleaded with Jason to 
stop. Each punch was deliberate and each kick as I lay on 
the ground, screaming, concomitantly caused further 
physical discomfort. 

I recall fellow patients observing this incident in a state 
of shock. The looks of terror only heightened my already 
elevated anxiety. Each whack, kick, and jab met my face 
with vigor, with every sturdy strike radiating from 
excruciating to intolerable. I felt sore for weeks. My 
bruised body sustained what can most aptly be 
characterized as the utility of an industrial punching bag. 
The inflammation, redness, and sensitivity around the areas 
where I was struck by Jason gave my body a shoddy, 
inferior sensation, bringing my definition of corporal pain 
to an advanced and unfamiliar magnitude. This was only 
the beginning. 

The culture of Manatee Palms was not unlike that of 
what is exhibited in the film Fight Club. The excessive, 
nearly inhuman paradigm of assault from Jason, Justin, 
Leroy, Marty, Cliff, and Richard only enhanced the 


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permissibility of fights solely among patients. I specifically 
recall my endurance of pain to systematically increase upon 
each demonstrative occasion of a brawl. At times, the 
bashes and clobbers would propel and evolve to a state of 
restraint, typically following two to two and half minutes of 
pure and unadulterated punches and kicks. Comparatively, 
the restraints were, from an obviously abstract point of 
view, more comfortable due to the lack of frequency of 
strikes which were replaced with the restriction of body 
movement. 

The instances of the “necessity” of fighting and 
subsequent restraints were initiated by various motives with 
the objective of inflicting pain on my person. Such activity 
as that of refusing to go to bed or follow an instruction 
provided to them what was a warranted rationale to initiate 
a violent melee complete with the onslaught of assault. The 
bombardment of smacks and whipped fists provided not 
merely an alternative to the instigation of the introductory 
phase of restraint, but suitably and advantageously 
permitted the assaults to appear to the senses solely as the 
common struggle and scuffle to physically coerce the 
patient (i.e., me) to violently land on the floor. 

The staff, composed of many recent high school grads 
and many thugs who talked incessantly about gangs and 
crime, were particularly infuriated when a staff member 
named Rhonda was fired, due to the fact that she sexually 
molested me, which she later admitted to and was fired for 
(as well as pleading guilty in court for this crime). 


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NICHOLAS ALAHVERDIAN 


Apparently, Rhonda had been friends with many of her 
fellow staff and my honesty was detrimental to her 
retaining employment with Manatee Palms. Justin kicked 
me in the groin several times, punched me, and choked me 
the day after I shed light on this sinister violation of trust 
and professionalism. Many other assaults followed. Rhode 
Island Family Court waited a few more months before my 
social worker was finally allowed to rescue me from this 
torture. 

As my tolerance for pain grew, so did my assertiveness 
against the staff who inflicted it upon me. I persistently 
attempted to inform the administration of Manatee Palms of 
the daily and nightly explosions of violence. Therapists and 
the doctor never inquired about the blackened bruises from 
especially violent brawls, the discoloration formed an 
enveloping, intrusive layer of contusions. 

The violent conflicts would last anywhere from two to 
two and a half minutes of the purest pain. These frequent 
battles were regularly accompanied by vicious and wicked 
verbal assaults- choice names such as “sissy,” “wimp,” 
“bitch-ass,” “motherfucker,” “white-ass bitch,” 
“cocksucker,” and “punk-ass bitch” were some of the more 
frequently used monikers. The kicks and punches were 
often verbalized in step with the syllabic structure of the 
words; that is to say with the utterance of each syllable, it 
was not uncommon for each verbally assaulting syllable to 
be met with its physical counterpart of a punch. For 
example, “punk-ass, bitch-ass, white-ass motherfucker” 


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DREADING AND HOPING ALL 


would be a particularly harsh mash-up of syllabic assault 
intertwined with eight respective hits. 

As the quarrels ensued, so did my subconsciously 
wrought explications meant to clarify the purpose for being 
attacked. As I lay on the ground screaming and crying, nose 
bloodied, tears sloping downward, I became accustomed to 
the systematic, nearly mechanized process of assault, 
restraint, and subsequent lockup in the “quiet room,” more 
often than not accompanied with a hearty dose of a 
chemical sedative. 

The physical discomfort that I suffered was 
incalculable. As I mentioned earlier, my body would 
literally have a coating of blackness, purpleness, 
yellowness, and redness, hues I had never seen and colors I 
thought my body was incapable of producing. The ungodly 
frequency of migraines from hits in the head, which seemed 
to be Leroy’s favorite place to strike, was nearly 
unbearable. The joint pain, swelling, and sometimes 
immobility became a burden. It would become painful to 
stand from straight blows to the stomach, painful to walk 
from hits in the knee, painful to sit because of jabs to my 
ribcage, and uncomfortable to lie in the relative security of 
my bed due to my back being stepped on with steel-toe 
boots which Cliff seemed quite fond of. 

I believe I would be a formidable contender for the 
competition of most nosebleeds in a one year period. All 
too often my clothing would be splattered with blood, I 


73 



NICHOLAS ALAHVERDIAN 


would wake up in the middle of the night with a pillow that 
took on fire-engine red appearance. Accompanied by the 
most arduous migraines, my nose would bleed and bleed. 
Not only was that a favorable place for the fellow patients 
to attack me, but it seemed to Leroy that I favored being hit 
in the face because he did it so often. 

The disguise of struggle in anticipation of a restraint to 
mask the assaults does not adequately describe the strategic 
paradigm with which the assaults were employed. The 
forceful strikes were in such frequency that I do not believe 
I went a day without being bruised or attacked for a four to 
six month period. The daily coating of skin discoloration 
would be impossible to acquire solely from professional, 
therapeutic, safety-minded restraining measures. The 
dichotomous polarity of what this cohort of staff 
maliciously committed and what they were trying to imply 
are two opposing and dissimilar undertakings. 

My body became one with the pain. The only way I feel 
that I can most aptly characterize this abhorrent infliction 
of pain on my person is to describe the pain as the 
antithesis of happiness, the polar opposite of elation. The 
suffering and agony necessitated that I develop physical 
coping mechanisms that would justify the assaultive 
nuisances that were recurrently transpiring. My body 
learned to interpret the pain as a distorted configuration of 
euphoric interpretation. Said another way, my body learned 
to welcome the pain instead of attempting to avoid it as it 


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became such a habitual, daily (sometimes hourly) 
occurrence. 

The seemingly preferred method of a fight would 
usually follow this formula: 

One: A provocative event meant to disrupt the 
“stability” of the group of patients would occur. Typically, 
an instruction (some of which I viewed as pointless or 
issued with malice) would be given, and I would object. On 
many occasions, probably the most common dilemma that I 
faced was obtaining or retaining college view-books and 
application materials that were confiscated due to their 
“irrelevance to my treatment plan.” 

Two: An alternative would be given, such as an escort to 
the “quiet room,” more often than not peppered with curse 
words. 

Three: I would object to the alternative and attempt to 
peacefully discuss the issue. 

Four: A final warning would be given and I would 
typically remain seated while the staff members proceeded 
to kick me, grab my arms, punch me, in three instances bite 
me, grasp my neck so tightly that I felt as I was being 
deprived of oxygen, jab me in the chest, punch me in the 
nose, apply force to a pressure point, step on my hands, 
kick me in the face, place me on the ground with my 
stomach to the floor yet arms acrobatically holding down 
my own head, and multitudinous other forms of the most 


75 



NICHOLAS ALAHVERDIAN 


flawless, definitive forms of physical pain that went beyond 
my most dismal and pessimistic expectations. 

Five: After a couple of solid minutes of sheer terror, a 
restraint would ensue, a nurse would be called to administer 
a sedative, and I would be left for dead in the “quiet room.” 

The unfortunate reality of this pain was the fact that I 
needed to constantly reassure myself that it would be the 
last time, always justifying the attacks as being my fault. 
The seemingly borderline personalities of the staff 
members were startling. 

There was no grey area- it was rather binary; that is to 
say my behavior would be good or bad, and they came to 
work seeming to expect to initiate an impasse of my desire 
to meet their expectations. The kicks to the face and jabs to 
the chest were administered in even the most inferior 
situations, such as requesting more food or a drink of water 
after bedtime; the events would simply depend on their 
mood. The seemingly consistent vengeful attitude taken on 
by Richard and Justin would often result in the most 
simplistic requests being turned into the most complicated 
fights. 

Richard, Justin, and Leroy (or any combination of the 
three) often worked as a team on the same shift. The 
vindictiveness with which they approached their 
responsibilities was abhorrent, I was frequently startled that 
their immaturity would be carried into the workplace. They 


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DREADING AND HOPING ALL 


seemed to have a particular impulse to exact revenge upon 
any patient who dared cross their path. 

Cliff, in addition to his frequent sexual jokes and 
references, was notorious for assaulting patients during 
restraints. I know Cliff was fired for his behavior. His 
harmful behavior led me to pain on many occasions. His 
preferred manner of diabolical assault was to get me to 
ground as quick as possible and step on my face while 
alternating with blows from his fist. 

Cliff’s monstrous acts were among some of the most 
despicable, leaving me with countless bruises, migraines, 
sore body parts, and a significant amount of occasions 
where I had trouble breathing due to the breath being 
knocked clear out of my lungs with the force of a bat to a 
baseball. 

Marty was not an actual employee of Manatee Palms, he 
was one of the 15 or so staff from the “agency,” a 
temporary staff support firm that provided logistical 
support to the facility. Marty would be annoyed at the 
slightest of adverse circumstances, often simply slapping 
me. Marty was probably the least abusive of this cohort. 

As I mentioned earlier, the incident with Jason was the 
tip of the iceberg as this initial assault sparked a chain of 
assaults that continued until the day I was court-ordered out 
of the facility. Justin was particularly and devilishly 
vengeful as he and Jason were friends. 


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NICHOLAS ALAHVERDIAN 


Richard also committed acts of retribution, albeit his 
were less severe than Justin’s and were often only 
committed in the presence of Justin, often invoking the 
“esprit de corps” or comitatus of their united force against 
the white, minority patients. 

In conclusion, my days at Manatee Palms were dark and 
filled with destructive and harmful behavior. Never in my 
life did I expect to be so horribly and atrociously hurt. The 
sinister paradox of being hurt by the people paid to take 
care of me was and is startling and disturbingly astonishing. 
I may have physically recovered from these assaults, but I 
sometimes have phantom pains and frightening 
phenomenons where I visualize the blackening and 
purpling and yellowing of my skin where the bruises 
acquired by Manatee Palms staff once were. They are 
invisible bullet wounds of the most terrorizing battle I’ve 
ever experienced. 


Regards, 

Nicholas Alahverdian 


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NICHOLAS ALAHVERDIAN 


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CHAPTER 6 

OBITUARY 

Nicholas Alahverdian died on February 29, 2020 
after a battle with non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma 
complicated by pneumonia at age 32 

Nicholas Alahverdian 
July 11,1987 - February 29, 2020 

Nicholas Alahverdian’s battle for life ended on 
February 29, 2020. The children and families in the care of 
the Rhode Island Department of Children Youth and 
Families (DCYF) for whom he inspired and led through 
turbulent government transgressions have lost a warrior 
that fought on the front lines for two decades. Mr. 
Alahverdian died two months after going public with his 
diagnosis of non-Hodgkin lymphoma. He was in his 32nd 
year. 

At the bedside were Mrs. Alahverdian, their two 
children, and extended family. His last words were “fear 
not and run toward the bliss of the sun.” At the time of his 
passing, the room was filled with the sounds of the end 
credits for the 1997 film “Contact” by composer Alan 
Silvestri, a film and score which held special meaning for 
Mr. Alahverdian. 


81 


NICHOLAS ALAHVERDIAN 


Mr. Alahverdian was a devout Roman Catholic. In 
keeping with Mr. Alahverdian’s wishes, his earthly remains 
were cremated with his ashes scattered at sea. 

Statesmen and stateswomen in the House of 
Representatives and Senate joined with Mayors across 
Rhode Island in homage to a man whom they 
acknowledged as “one of the most vocal, outspoken and 
constructive advocates for reforming Rhode Island's DCYF 
and the child care system” and a “lighter in spirit but a 
peacemaker in practice” for two decades. His name, when 
uttered in memoriam in the House and Senate Chambers 
and City Halls throughout the Ocean State, was a fitting 
tribute as those were the spaces where Alahverdian labored 
as a warrior for those without a voice for two decades 
commenting on not just issues surrounding the Department 
of Children Youth and Families, but also business, health, 
public safety, and education. 

Providence Mayor Jorge O. Elorza remembered Mr. 
Alahverdian as "a beloved community leader whose 
selflessness and lifelong contributions to the residents of 
the State of Rhode Island have earned him the unwavering 
admiration and respect of many." 

WPRO News, the first news organization to 
announce the death of Mr. Alahverdian, was a base for him 
over the years as he told Rhode Islanders of the devastation 
suffered by children in care on The Buddy Cianci Show, 
The Dan Yorke Show, and on Steve Klamkin and the 


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Saturday Morning News. The family express gratitude to 
these journalists, as well as to Bob Kerr, Walt Buteau, 
Parker Gavigan, and Dan McGowan who all became close 
confidantes in Mr. Alahverdian’s two decade war on DCYF 
to spark its overhaul and reform. 

As the world comes to a halt due to the coronavirus, 
the public memorial service will be planned at the end of 
the pandemic and details will be published on the official 
Alahverdian Center for Child Welfare Facebook page at 
www.facebook.com/nicholas.alahverdian as well as at 
nicholasalahverdian.com 

Rhode Island politics, which are often fraught with 
tension, were put aside when House Speaker Nicholas A. 
Mattiello remembered Mr. Alahverdian from the House 
Rostrum following the introduction of a House Resolution 
in his honor, unanimously supported by the entire House of 
Representatives. Earlier in the month, the House adjourned 
with a moment of silence in memory of Mr. Alahverdian 

Alahverdian was a product of the Providence Renaissance, 
never forgetting the Ciancian transformation of an 
industrial city to a cosmopolitan destination where one was 
proud to be from Providence. He enjoyed a great friendship 
with the late Mayor Vincent A. Cianci, Jr. 

Mr. Alahverdian was a painter, author, amateur 
ornithologist, political scientist, sociologist, accomplished 
orator, and child welfare reform advocate. 


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NICHOLAS ALAHVERDIAN 


He spent 20 years in the House of Representatives 
and the Senate, where he not only served as a state 
employee at the age of 14, but also provided lawmakers 
with insight into the abusive DCYF practices which have 
sparked calls for reform from all four corners of Rhode 
Island as he was abused in DCYF care simultaneous to his 
employment with the government. Alahverdian left his 
employment to became the youngest lobbyist in Rhode 
Island history as he fought for DCYF refonn and was then 
exiled to Nebraska and Florida where he was silenced until 
his 18th birthday. 

Surviving what Providence Journal columnist Bob 
Kerr called a Dickensian existence in Rhode Island and 
enduring war-like torture in Nebraska and Florida was a 
triumph of sheer will. He overcame severe beatings and 
rapes and the facilities were ultimately closed after 
Alahverdian shined a light on the abuse. Alahverdian 
continued his crusade against DCYF abuses until his death, 
and with merely two weeks prior to his untimely passing, a 
bill creating a DCYF oversight commission was introduced 
in his honor by Rep. Ray Hull as the stories about DCYF 
horrors continue to be reported and published. 

He again did the unthinkable and was admitted to 
and became an alum of Harvard University, the most 
peaceful and intellectually invigorating four years of his 
life aside from the past four years with his young loving 
family including his beloved wife and cherished children. 


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Mr. Alahverdian leaves many friends ranging from 
the world of politics to music to business and beyond. The 
family thank with utmost gratitude Dr. Jeffrey Hunt, Bob 
Kerr, the Hon. Ray Hull, Hon. Bob DaSilva, Hon. Joanne 
Giannini, Hon. John Lombardi, Hon. Anastasia Williams, 
Hon. Maryellen Goodwin, Hon. Josh Miller, Hon. Allan 
Fung, Hon. Sheldon Whitehouse, Hon. Jeffrey Pine, the 
professors Dr. John Hamilton, Dr. Theo Theoharis, Dr. 
Thomas Underwood, all of Harvard University; Rhode 
Island Music Hall of Fame artist Rudy Cheeks, friends 
Saling Simon, Leah Cooke, and Leslie Twining, and 
countless others who filled the last third of his life with 
love, joy, excitement, and wonder. 

Besides his immediate family, Mr. Alahverdian’s 
survivors include his uncles Michael and Edward 
Alahverdian, his cousins Michael, Melissa, and Neil; and 
numerous siblings, half-siblings, nephews, and nieces. 

Condolences to the family can be sent to 
info@nicholasalahverdian.com or at the online condolence 
book on EverLoved.com 


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NICHOLAS ALAHVERDIAN 


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CHAPTER 6 

NEWS ARTICLES 
& 

PROCLAMATIONS, RESOLUTIONS 
& CITATIONS ISSUED TO THE 
FAMILY OF 

MR. NICHOLAS ALAHVERDIAN 


When Mr. Alahverdian died, it was a national news 
story. With coverage ranging from the Associated Press to 
The Washington Times, and many other newspapers, 
television stations, and internet websites including 
MSN.com. His family were sent condolences from the 
mayors of many Rhode Island cities, and Mr. Alahverdian 
was honored in the House of Representatives and the 
Senate. In the pages that follow are samples of those 
articles and honors. 



87 



NICHOLAS ALAHVERDIAN 


Associated Press 

Child welfare activist dies of cancer 
March 3, 2020 

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — Nicholas Alahverdian, 
who grew up in foster care and went on to become a 
vocal critic of Rhode Island’s child care system, has 
died of cancer. He was 32. 

Alahverdian died Saturday after losing a battle with 
non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, according to his obituary. 

“He lived a warrior’s life,” the obituary reads. “A 
fighter in spirit, but a peacemaker in practice. He 
overcame significant abuse and harmful living 
conditions.” 

Alahverdian was an outspoken critic of the state’s use 
of out-of-state facilities for children under the care of 
its Department of Children, Youth and Families. 

He testified before state lawmakers about being 
sexually abused and tortured while he was shuffled 
from temporary shelters in Rhode Island to residential 
facilities in Florida and Nebraska. 

“It’s an inhumane approach to a human problem,” 
Alahverdian told The Associated Press in 2011. “We 
have the ability to provide for them here. And we’re 
spending all this money to ship them across the 
country.” 


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Alahverdian later sued the state and his alleged abusers 
in a federal lawsuit that was settled in 2013. He’d also 
worked as a legislative aide in the State House and 
attended Harvard University. 

State Rep. Ray Hull, a Providence Democrat, filed a 
resolution last month in honor of Alahverdian that calls 
for the creation of a House oversight commission to 
investigate treatment of children in state care. 

Alahverdian is survived by his wife and two children. 

https://apnews.com/ 

aec7a7d76cadbf56e69686899ea2659d 


NBC News — Channel 10 WJAR Providence 
Rhode Island child welfare reform advocate dies of 
cancer 

March 3, 2020 

Rhode Island child welfare reform advocate and author 
Nicholas Alahverdian, 32, died on Saturday after a 
battle with non-Hodgkin lymphoma, his family said in 
a statement to NBC 10. 

Alahverdian overcame a troubled childhood in the 
custody of the Department of Children, Youth, and 
Families, and went on to fight for DCYF reform. 


89 





NICHOLAS ALAHVERDIAN 


He caught the attention of lawmakers when he claimed 
he was abused and tortured during out-of-state 
placements in Florida and Nebraska, eventually 
exposing dangerous living conditions for children. He 
later sued those alleged abusers and state officials. The 
case was settled. 

Alahverdian’s obituary said he “lived a warrior’s life, 
(and was a) fighter in spirit but a peacemaker in 
practice.” 

After working for the General Assembly as a page and 
a legislative aide, Alahverdian attended Harvard 
University. Just weeks ago, legislation spearheaded by 
Providence Rep. Raymond Hull (D) was introduced, 
that would create a House of Representatives oversight 
commission on DCYF. The bill is pending. 

He leaves behind a wife and two young children. 

https://turnto 10.com/news/local/rhode-island-child- 

welfare-reform-advocate-dies-of-cancer 


CBS News — Channel 12 WPRI Providence 
Child welfare activist, DCYF critic loses battle with 
cancer 

March 2, 2020 

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Nicholas 
Alahverdian, a longtime critic of Rhode Island’s child 


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care system who alleged he was “tortured and raped” 
in DCYF-approved group homes, died Saturday after 
losing a battle with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. 

Alahverdian, survived by his wife and two children, 
was 32.“He lived a warrior’s life,” she said. “A fighter 
in spirit, but a peacemaker in practice. He overcame 
significant abuse and harmful living conditions.” 

Alahverdian filed a federal lawsuit in 2011, alleging he 
was sexually assaulted by group home residents and 
employees as he said he was “shuffled” through 
several Rhode Island, Florida and Nebraska facilities 
by the Department of Children, Youth and Families 
(DCYF).The lawsuit was settled in 2013, but the 
details were not disclosed. 

Last week, Alahverdian said he was hopeful about a 
resolution filed in the Rhode Island House of 
Representatives by Providence State Rep. Raymond 
Hull, calling for a commission to study the treatment 
of children in DCYF custody. 

“This is something that’s been needed since I first 
proposed it years ago,” Alahverdian said. “[DCYF 
care] has only gotten worse since then.” 


https://www.wpri.com/target-12/child-welfare- 

advocate-dcyf-critic-loses-battle-with-cancer/ 


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NICHOLAS ALAHVERDIAN 


WPRO News — 99.7 FM — A Cumulus Station 
Child abuse victim Alahverdian loses his cancer fight 
March 2,2020 

Nick Alahverdian, a foster child who fought against 
abuses in Rhode Island’s child care system, lost his 
battle with cancer and died on Saturday. He was 32. 

He leaves his wife and two children. 

“No words can express what has happened,” she said, 
adding he was admitted to a hospital on Friday, the 
cancer had impacted his kidneys and his lungs, and he 
died on Saturday. 

Alahverdian, a former House page and legislative aide 
sued the state, claiming that he was assaulted and 
abused while in DCYF care, and placed out-of-state. 
The suit was settled in 2013. 

Alahverdian revealed in January he had been 
diagnosed with late-stage non-Hodgkin lymphoma and 
told he likely had just weeks to live. He redoubled his 
efforts at reforming the state’s child care system and 
Department for Children, Youth and Families. 

“Unfortunately, this has come much too soon in my 
life,” he told WPRO News at the time. “I’m only 32 
years old and I wish I had the ability to live much 
longer to accomplish the things that I set about to do so 


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many years ago,” he said. 

In February, Providence Rep. Raymond Hull filed a 
resolution on Alahverdian’s behalf, calling for the 
creation of an emergency, one-year House commission 
to investigate treatment of children in foster care. The 
measure is still pending in the House. 

“He was always such a person that had energy and life, 
and belief in his cause, and that was being a warrior 
for foster children,” his wife said. “Rhode Island and 
the world have lost someone who really went to work 
for children.” 

She said that in keeping with his wishes, he would be 
cremated, his ashes scattered at sea. 

“He always had a real affinity for the ocean,” she said. 

https://www.997wpro.com/2020/03/Q2/child-abuse- 

victim-alahverdian-loses-his-cancer-fight/ 


93 




NICHOLAS ALAHVERDIAN 



STATE OF RHODE ISLAND 

IN GENERAL ASSEMBLY 
JANUARY SESSION, A.D. 2020 

2Q20 — H 7994 

HOUSE RESOLUTION 

EXPRESSING CONDOLENCES 
ON THE PASSING OF NICHOLAS 
ALAHVERDIAN 

Introduced Bv: Representatives Hull, Mattiello, 
Filippi, Shekarchi, and Lombardi 
Date Introduced: March 11, 2020 
Referred To: House read and passed 

WHEREAS, It is with sadness that this House has 
learned of the untimely passing of Nicholas 
Alahverdian, the beloved husband to the love of his 
life whom he affectionately referred to as “my daisy,” 
a devoted and loving father to his two children, and an 
accomplished author and passionate child welfare 
reform advocate; and 


94 







DREADING AND HOPING ALL 


WHEREAS, Nicholas Alahverdian spent much of his 
youth in the foster care system. During his years in the 
custody of the Department of Children, Youth, and 
Families, he endured significant abuse, deprivation of 
education, neglect and harmful living conditions. The 
challenges he faced throughout those years could have 
irreparably shattered his life but instead, those 
hardships gave him understanding, passion, and drive; 
and 

WHEREAS, More than a survivor, Nicholas endured 
and ultimately overcame his years in the system to 
become a Harvard-trained sociologist and political 
scientist, an accomplished author, and for two decades, 
one of the most vocal, outspoken and constructive 
advocates for reforming Rhode Island’s DCYF and the 
child care system; and 

WHEREAS, Putting in marathon hours devoted to 
reform, Nicholas had worked with four DCYF 
directors, spent hours in General Assembly committee 
hearings, and was described as “A fighter in spirit but a 
peacemaker in practice”; and 

WHEREAS, In addition to his family, writing and 
crusader for reform, Nicholas was a devout Roman 
Catholic who loved to sail, paint and read, and 
ornithology; and 

WHEREAS, Nicholas Alahverdian led “a warrior’s 
life” fighting for some of the most vulnerable children 


95 



NICHOLAS ALAHVERDIAN 


in our state. Sadly, he lost his final battle against non- 
Hodgkin Lymphoma following complications with 
pneumonia but he will surely be remembered by those 
whose lives he strived to improve and in the hearts of 
those he loved; now, therefore be it 

RESOLVED, That this House of Representatives of 
the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations 
hereby extends deepest condolences on the passing of 
Nicholas Alahverdian; and be it further 

RESOLVED, That the Secretary of State be and hereby 
is authorized and directed to transmit a duly certified 
copy of this resolution to Mrs. Alahverdian and 
Family. 

View the House Session including remarks from 
Speaker Nicholas Mattiello and Representative 
Raymond Hull at https://www.youtube.comAvatch? 
v=tBijXpqPEFs 


The Senate Resolution has been prepared but was not 
available at the time of publication of this volume due 
to the fact that it has not been read and passed as a 
result of the COVID-19 pandemic. 


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f (jen XOtfaUen 

In Memory of 


I, JORffE O. ELCYRgfl, Mayor of the City of (Providence, 
do here6y confer upon you this citation 
in memory of Nicholas fltahverdian, a 6etoved community header 
whose seCfCessness andtifetong contributions to the residents 
of the State of (Rhode I stand have earned him the unwavering admiration and respect of many. 
Nicholas was a tireless advocate for the voiceless and disenfranchised, 
and he continues to 6e an inspiration to all who had the privilege of knowing him. 

Hie citizens of (Providence and mysefjoin with Nicholas’famity and friends 
in cete6rating the tife of this extraordinary man. 


Cjiven under the SeaC of the Mayor of the City of (providence 
this 19 tfl day of March, 2020. 


Mayor of Providence 


97 



NICHOLAS ALAHVERDIAN 



CITY OF PROVIDENCE 

CITIZEN CITATION 
IN MEMORY OF 
NICHOLAS ALAHVERDIAN 

I, JORGE 0. ELORZA, Mayor of the City of 
Providence, do hereby confer upon you this citation in 
memory of Nicholas Alahverdian, a beloved 
community leader whose selflessness and lifelong 
contributions to the residents of the State of Rhode 
Island have earned him the unwavering admiration and 
respect of many. 

Nicholas was a tireless advocate for the voiceless and 
disenfranchised, and he continues to be an inspiration 
to all who had the privilege of knowing him. 

The citizens of Providence and myself join with 
Nicholas’ family and friends in celebrating the life of 
this extraordinary man. 

Given under the Seal of the Mayor of the City of 
Providence this 19th day of March, 2020. 

JORGE O. ELORZA 
MAYOR OF PROVIDENCE 


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DREADING AND HOPING ALL 


State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations 



THE CITY OF CRANSTON 

is to Certify, and make known unto all to whom these presents shall come that 
Mayor Allan W. Fung hereby issues a Citation to: 


HlaljfcierMan 

1987-2020 


In memory and recognition of the author and child welfare reform advocate, 
devoted husband and father 
The City of Cranston extends its deepest sympathies. 


m 

s " 


OtU AutU ifuty 

Mayor Allan W. Fung 


Mayor Allan W. Fung 

3ln attestation thereof 3 fjabe hereunto set mp banb anb affixeb tlje seal of satb Citp 

This seventeenth day of March A.D . 2020 


THE CITY OF CRANSTON 

This is to Certify, and make known unto all whom 
these presents shall come that Mayor Allan W. Fung 
hereby issues a Citation to: 

NICHOLAS ALAHVERDIAN 

1987-2020 

In memory and recognition of the author and child 
welfare reform advocate, devoted husband and father 
the City of Cranston extends its deepest sympathies. 

ALLAN W. FUNG 

In Attestation Whereof I have hereunto set my hand 
and affixed the seal of said City this seventeenth day of 
March A.D. 2020 


99 




NICHOLAS ALAHVERDIAN 



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City of East Providence 
In Memoriam 

Be it hereby known to all that the Office of the Mayor 
extends its sincerest condolences and expressions of 
sympathy on behalf of the City of East Providence to 

The Alahverdian F amily 
On the passing of 
Nicholas Alahverdian 

Roberto L. DaSilva, Mayor 
March 20, 2020 


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NICHOLAS ALAHVERDIAN 


Whereas, Nicholas ACahverdian, age 32, author and child welfare reform advocate, 
died on February 29, 2020, Cosing his hattCe -with non-Modgkin Lymphoma. Me was 
surrounded hy his Coving famiCy incCuding his cherished wife andbelovedchildren; and 

Whereas, Nicholas Civeda warrior's life. A fighter in spirit hut a peacemaker in 
practice, Nicholas survivedlife in 'Rhode Island's childwelfare system, the Department 
of ChiCdren, youth and families, which he fought so hard to reform; and 

'Whereas, Nicholas overcame significant abuse, deprivation of education, and harmful 
living conditions. Amazingly he simultaneously worked for the Rhode Island general 
Assembly as a page and then as a legislative aide, fie was able to give lawmakers an 
eyewitness account of what it was like to grow up in such dangerous state-funded 
conditions in group homes andshelters; and 

Whereas, as a result of his acumen for drawing legislative attention to important 
issues, Nicholas suffered the ire of DCyj, where he was sent to florida and Nebraska 
and tortured in ways that truly shock the human conscience. Roth placements were 
later shuttered andNicholas suedhis abusers and the state officials responsible for his 

abuse; and 

Whereas, Nicholas attended Marvard‘University, learning from the best professors in 
the world and furthering his life’s work of being the best person he could be in what he 
saw as an insane yet fixable world fie spent two decades attempting to spark reform 

of the RJ DCyj; and 

Whereas, just two weeks prior to his death, in honor of Nicholas, State Representative 
Null along with Rep. Lombardi, Rep. Rennett, and Rep. McLoughlin introduced a bid to 
create a ‘.House of Representatives Oversight Commission on DCyj. The bid is pending 
in the Mouse, with the hope that this year it widpass. 

Whereas, Nicholas’ strength and confidence preceded him. andhe poured his spirit and 
energy into the democratic process in which he so strongly believed and 

Whereas, Nicholas loved sailing, ornithology, painting, andwas a voracious reader. 
Me was a devout Roman Catholic. Me doted on his chiCdren, always a loving father 
working relentlessly to give them the family and childhood he never had the 
opportunity to experience. Me Coved his wife more than life itself, always referring to 
her affectionately as "My Daisy." 

Therefore, I, Mayor Lisa Raldedi-Munt, honor 

Nicholas ACahverdian 

and the stellar life lived so wed on behalf of the rights of children in our state, we honor 
Nicholas’ life with utmost gratitude on Thursday, March 22, 2020. 



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Whereas, Nicholas Alahverdian, age 32, author and 
child welfare reform advocate, died on February 29, 
2020, losing his battle with non Hodgkin Lymphoma 
diagnosed last year following complications with 
pneumonia. He was surrounded by his loving family 
including his cherished wife and beloved children; and 

Whereas, Nicholas Alahverdian lived a warrior’s life. 
A fighter in spirit but a peacemaker in practice, 
Alahverdian survived life in Rhode Island’s child 
welfare system the Department of Children, Youth and 
Families, which he fought so hard to reform; and 

Whereas, Nicholas overcame significant abuse, 
deprivation of education, and harmful living 
conditions. Amazingly he simultaneously worked for 
the Rhode Island General Assembly as a page and then 
as a legislative aide. He was able to give lawmakers an 
eyewitness account of what it was like to grow up in 
such dangerous state-funded conditions in group 
homes and shelters; and 

Whereas, as a result of his acumen for drawing 
legislative attention to important issues, Alahverdian 
suffered the ire of DCYF, where he was sent to Florida 
and Nebraska and tortured in ways that truly shock the 
human conscience. Both placements were later 


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NICHOLAS ALAHVERDIAN 


shuttered and Nicholas sued his abusers and the state 
officials responsible for his abuse; and 

Whereas, Nicholas attended Harvard University, 
learning from the best professors in the world, and 
furthering his life’s work of being the best person he 
could be in what he saw as an insane yet fixable world. 
He spent two decades attempting to spark reform of 
the RI DCYF; and 

Whereas, Just two weeks prior to his death, in honor of 
Nicholas, State Representative Hull along with Rep. 
Lombardi, Rep. Bennett, and Rep. McLoughlin 
introduced a bill to create a House of Representatives 
Oversight Commission on DCYF. The bill is pending 
in the House with the hope that this year it will pass; 
and 

Whereas, Nicholas’ strength and confidence preceded 
him, and he poured his spirit and energy into the 
democratic process in which he so strongly believed; 
and 

Whereas, Nicholas loved sailing, ornithology, painting, 
and was a voracious reader. He was a devout Roman 
Catholic. He doted on his children, always a loving 
father working relentlessly to give them the family and 
childhood he never had the opportunity to experience. 
He loved his wife more than life itself, always 
referring to her affectionately as “My Daisy.” 


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Therefore, I, Mayor Lisa Baldelli-Hunt, honor 

Nicholas Alahverdian 

and the stellar life lived so well on behalf of the rights 
of the children in our state, we honor Nicholas with 
utmost gratitude on Thursday, March 22, 2020. 


LISA BALDELLI-HUNT 
MAYOR 

CITY OF WOONSOCKET 


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NICHOLAS ALAHVERDIAN 


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NICHOLAS ALAHVERDIAN 


ABOUT THE AUTHOR 


Nicholas Alahverdian (1987-2020) was a Harvard Univeristy 
political scientist and sociologist. His primary scholarly focus 
was the intersection of philology, anthropology, rhetoric, and 
politics. 


Alahverdian was renowned for his work in reforming systemic 
problems in state foster care programs. Alahverdian's studies, 
academic analyses, and legislative solutions are cited in local 
and national media. 

He died in February 2020 of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma 
complicated by pneumonia. 

The Nicholas Edward Alahverdian Press can be reached at 
neapress@protonmail.com and www.nicholasalahverdian.com 


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